This chicken pot pie with cornbread crust is just the loveliest. Tender chunks of chicken, sweet softened carrots, celery, onion, and corn—swimming in a rich, creamy gravy, all nestled under a blanket of sweet, gritty cornbread. The crumbly topping serves as the perfect sponge for all that sauce. Pure comfort food.
When I made this creamy chicken and cornbread casserole for our big Sunday supper, Daniel smiled into his plate. He chewed and mmm’ed and then looked up at me, and with the sunniest grin, said, “I want you to make this for our children.”
Me: …[pause]…Ooo…Here’s the only snafu: You know that we don’t have any of those yet?
Daniel: Ha, yes, but I was just thinking out loud. It tastes good…and it’s so good for you…and it’s got corn…kids would love this kind of thing.
Me: …You also just found out that we’re not yet married?
Daniel: Uh huh.
Me: …And that by the time I have children I’ll be making meals exclusively in the shape of Muppet Babies?
Me:…And that I’m going to be really sleepy by then?
Daniel: When you’re thirty?
Me: Uh huh.
Me: …And you also know that I’m going to teach my someday children to cook by the time they’re 18 months old?
Daniel: I figured.
Me: …be-because…I really believe in independence. And self sufficiency.
Daniel: Makes sense.
Me: But I guess I can make this sometimes. Because, like, some kids don’t like peanut butter and fluff sandwiches as much as I’d like them to. Not all the time, anyhow. And remember what I said about being sleepy?
Daniel: I know.
Me: But our kids will, right? They’ll like fluff?
Daniel: How could they not?
Me: Good point. You know I’m a worrier.
[chew, chew, chew]
Me: And…I mean…can we teach them how to paint my nails and toes? Like, really good?
Me: And clean the tile in the shower? Because I really don’t like that.
Me: Oh! And do you think they’ll watch The View with me? Because sometimes you forget?
Daniel: Well, I don’t know if The View will still be on then…
Me: Pffft wha-?! How could you say that?!
Daniel: No, I mean, it probably will still be on. It’s just…you know how TV goes…it’s tough to tell how long shows will last.
Me: That show will last forever.
Daniel: No, you’re right. I’m sure it will.
Me: No, like for-ev-er. I don’t even want to think about it being over. Can’t. Won’t. Will not. Nope.
Daniel: Kiddo, don’t worry about it. And yes, kids will love to watch The View with you. I’ll teach them explicitly how to DVR it if they have to do things like…oh, I don’t know, say, go to school. And how to fix you an iced pomegranate spritzer in the middle of the night. Everything will be great.
Daniel: Good. [smile] Really, I just love this dinner. Thanks for making it.
Me: Uh huh.
Daniel: You like it too? It has cornbread and chicken and gravy- all things you love.
Me: I just can’t believe you would say that about The View. You know how much I love Barbara.
[Daniel exits stage left]
Creamy Chicken and Cornbread Casserole
- 12 ounces boneless skinless chicken breast
- 1 ½ tablespoons butter
- 3 large carrots chopped
- 3 stalks celery chopped
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup sweet corn
- ¼ cup flour
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 teaspoons ground thyme
- 2 teaspoons ground sage
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¾ cup white or yellow cornmeal
- ¾ cup flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoons canola oil
- Make filling: Place the chicken breasts in a large saucepan and fill with enough cool water to cover them by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and let simmer for about 15 minutes (check them after 10), until the chicken is completely opaque and cooked through. The thickest part on the breast should register 165 degrees F on a meat thermometer. Drain and transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let cool before chopping into 1-inch chunks.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray an 8-inch baking dish (or any casserole dish of a similar size) generously with cooking spray.
- In a large saucepan or dutch oven, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and corn, and cook for about until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and stir constantly for 30 seconds. Sprinkle the flour into the pan and stir until it coats the vegetables, about 30 seconds. Slowly stir in the chicken stock, stirring well so that the flour begins to de-clump and thicken the stock. Cook the mixture over medium heat until thickened and bubbly, about 4 minutes. Stir in cooked chicken, thyme, sage, salt, and pepper. Pour the mixture into your prepared dish and spread evenly.
- Make the crust: In a large bowl, whisk the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the milk, egg, and canola oil until smooth. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Spoon the batter evenly over the filling, smoothing the top. Bake until the top is puffed and golden brown, 22 to 25 minutes. Let cool for at 10 minutes before serving.