Chicken Breast Poblano and Cornbread
When trying to figure out a meal to make my dad for Father’s Day, the usual suggested menus don’t really work. My dad isn’t that into grilled meat (not like the weather here in Washington would permit outdoor grilling anyway even though, you know, it’s summer and you would expect to see sun instead of rain every day), and he probably enjoys a batch of slightly burnt chocolate chip cookies just as much, if not more, than a slice of some pillowy lemon layer cake. So what did I decide to make for him? Chicken breast poblano–flattened chicken breasts wrapped up in prosciutto and white cheese that are baked in the oven in a poblano chile cream sauce and more cheese–alongside some cornbread and a pineapple upside-down cake for dessert (he’s kind of a nostalgic person and likes his childhood treats).
Dinner was wonderful, besides the fact that my other three siblings were missing (why must people grow up and get jobs and move away and always have things to do?) and a kind of large mishap with the pineapple upside-down cake. You see, the original recipe called for the cake to be cooked in a large skillet, which I don’t have. It did, however, say that a nine-inch cake pan could act as a fair substitute. I’ve made this cake before and I thought I remembered using a nine inch cake pan…but in reality it was the 10 inch cake pan with taller sides. My mistake resulted in overflowing batter in the oven and a pretty botched-up looking upside down cake crumbling at its sides. Lesson learned: trust your instincts and if you pour batter into a pan and you think to yourself, hmm this looks like it might overflow when it rises, it probably will. Luckily, the cake still tasted delicious and all that remains the morning after is about two slices. Concerning the rest of the dinner, we all happily enjoyed the chicken and cornbread (my favorite, favorite recipe), but looking back now I think the chicken would have paired better with something like polenta or rice–something to soak up the delicious poblano cream sauce. I’m not sure how causing my dad to eat past being full and throw aside his trying-to-eat-healthy intentions by making food he loves qualifies as a gift for father’s day, but I hope it counts. Thanks Dad!
Chicken Breast Poblano
From Blanca Rodriguez, through Nordstrom’s Entertaining at Home Cookbook
Amy’s Note: I substituted the asadero cheese with montery jack, which served as a decent substitute (I think) as it melted well and had a nice mild taste. If I were to make this again (which I probably will) I’d probably substitute the heavy cream for either buttermilk or regular milk, just because the heavy cream seemed a bit excessive and the final sauce didn’t seem reliant on the creaminess for its flavors and textures.
6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 6 oz. each)
12 thin slices of prosciutto (about a 1/4 pound total)
1 1/4 pounds asadero cheese, grated (about 5 cups)
4 poblano chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
2 tablespoon sour cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Place a chicken breast between two pieces of plastic wrap and, using the flat side of a meat mallet, gently flatten it until it is about 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick. Repeat with the remaining breasts. Place the breasts on a clean work surface. Lay two prosciutto slices across each breast, and then top with 1/3 cup of the grated cheese. Starting from the long side, roll each breast into a tight cylinder. As each roll is formed, place it, seam side down and ends tucked under, in a 9×13 inch baking dish. The rolls should just be touching. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the chiles, heavy cream, sour cream and salt. Process, stopping to scrape down the sides once, until thoroughly blended and smooth, 2-3 minutes.
Transfer the chile mixture to a 4 quart saucepan, add the chicken broth, and place over medium heat. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered stirring occasionally, until the mixture reduces slightly and thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 20 minutes.
Pour the sauce mixture over the prepared chicken breasts and top with the remaining cheese. Bake until the chicken is cooked through, the cheese is lightly browned, and the sauce is bubbling, 50 to 60 minutes (For me this was 40 minutes. I would start checking earlier than what is called for). Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Using a spatula, transfer the chicken to warmed dinner plates and spoon some sauce over each serving. Serve immediately.
From Cook’s Illustrated
1 1/2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour (7 1/2 ounces)
1 cup yellow cornmeal (5 1/2 ounces)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar (1 3/4 ounces)
3/4 cup frozen or canned corn (3 1/2 ounces), thawed
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), melted and cooled slightly
Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 8-inch-square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl until combined; set aside.
In food processor or blender, process brown sugar, thawed corn kernels, and buttermilk until combined, about 5 seconds. Add eggs and process until well combined (corn lumps will remain), about 5 seconds longer.
Using rubber spatula, make well in center of dry ingredients; pour wet ingredients into well. Begin folding dry ingredients into wet, giving mixture only a few turns to barely combine; add melted butter and continue folding until dry ingredients are just moistened. Pour batter into prepared baking dish; smooth surface with rubber spatula. Bake until deep golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes. Cool on wire rack 10 minutes; invert cornbread onto wire rack, then turn right side up and continue to cool until warm, about 10 minutes longer. Cut into pieces and serve.