saucy smothered chicken with parmesan grits in a large bowl with chopped green onions

Ben and I recently celebrated our wedding anniversary – woo!

Usually we usually head somewhere fun and new to us to celebrate – past years included Italy, New Orleans, Vegas (Vegaaas!) Jamaica, and Charleston – but this year we stuck around home since we just recently whooped it up in Puerto Vallarta with friends.

Of course we had a blast in Mexico, but staying home for spring break means we’ve had major vacation envy after seeing all our friends post vacation photos on social media over the past few weeks. The pictures coming out of Charleston and Savannah in particular had me reminiscing about all the great food we’ve had down there on our travels.

So, since we couldn’t join ’em, I decided to cook like we were there with Saucy Smothered Chicken with Parmesan Grits. This simple yet outstanding dish is is soothing my stomach AND travel-loving soul!

sauteed peppers and onions over chicken and parmesan grits

Saucy Smothered Chicken with Parmesan Grits

Cajun-spiced chicken breasts are sauteed then smothered in a succulent, southern-inspired vegetable medley including green bell pepper, sweet onion and mushrooms, then simmered in chicken broth to create a delicious yet simple pan sauce. Served over quick-cooking parmesan grits, this meal is absolutely mouthwatering.

Like, full by the time you actually sit down to dinner because you’ve been nibbling and tasting your hunger away while it cooks!

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This southern veggie combo is a home run, especially when it’s smothering seasoned chicken under a bed of creamy, cheesy grits, which Ben and I both ate our weight in between our visits to NOLA, Charleston, and Savannah over the years. I swear part of my soul is Southern!

I started making parmesan grits a couple times a month after posting my Smoked Cheddar Shrimp and Grits Bites last fall. Quick-cooking grits are the perfect dinner side dish because they cook in 5 minutes (yes, FIVE) and are ridiculously comforting and creamy. The parmesan cheese is really subtle, so it’s perfect to pair with nearly anything.

This 30 minute skillet dinner is beyond fab, and if you’re looking for a taste of the south like I currently am, include this easy recipe in your meal plan ASAP. Oh, and those of you yet to take your spring break trips – take me with you?!

a fork taking a bite of saucy smothered chicken with parmesan grits

How to Make This Recipe

Start by generously seasoning 2 chicken breasts with Cajun or Creole seasoning and salt if the mix doesn’t have any. I used Tone’s Cajun seasoning but I also love Emeril’s Essence. Sear the chicken in a large cast iron skillet over high heat until golden brown, about 1-2 minutes a side.

The chicken shouldn’t be cooked all the way through at this point. Remove the chicken to a plate then set aside.

chicken breasts sauting in a skillet

Next heat 1 Tablespoon each butter and extra virgin olive oil in the skillet, still over high heat, then add 1 small sliced green bell pepper, 1/2 sliced jumbo sweet onion, and 4oz sliced mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper then saute until the vegetables are caramelized and tender, 7-8 minutes, stirring often.

fresh vegetables sauting in a hot skillet

Once the vegetables are tender, add the chicken back into the skillet then top with the seared vegetables. Stream in 1-1/2 cups chicken broth then boil until the sauce has reduced by about half, and the chicken is cooked through.

saucy smothered chicken sauting in a skillet

How to Make Parmesan Grits

While the broth is reducing, get to work on the parmesan grits. I use Bob’s Red Mill gluten free, quick cooking grits. Gluten free or not, check the back of the package to make sure they cook in about 5 minutes.

If you can get locally ground grits – go for it! I’ll never stop being puzzled that in Iowa, the largest producer of corn in the country, grits are pretty much a non-thing. So sad!

a bag of gluten free corn grits on a counter

Stir 1/2 cup quick cooking grits into 1-1/2 cups chicken broth with a dash of salt then turn the heat down to medium low and cook, whisking often, for 3-4 minutes or until the grits are cooked and creamy.

Take the pan off the heat then stir in 1 Tablespoon butter and 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese. Pop a lid on top then set the grits off to the side to continue softening for a few minutes.

Saucy Smothered Southern Chicken with Parmesan Grits is a quick and mouthwatering, healthy yet decadent-tasting dinner! #glutenfree | iowagirleats.com

Last step is to scoop the grits into shallow bowls then top with the chicken and seared vegetables. Drizzle with luscious pan sauce then sprinkle chopped green onions on top and dive in. You are going to inhale this delicious dish! I can’t wait to try it with sauteed shrimp instead of chicken, too. The grits just beg for it. Either way you decide – enjoy!

creamy parmesan grits in a bowl

Saucy Smothered Chicken with Parmesan Grits

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Description

Saucy Smothered Chicken with Parmesan Grits is a quick and mouthwatering, healthy yet decadent-tasting chicken dinner recipe!

Ingredients

serves 2

  • 2 large chicken breasts, pounded to an even thickness
  • Cajun or Creole seasoning
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small green bell pepper, sliced thin
  • 1/2 jumbo sweet onion, sliced thin
  • 4 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1-1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • For the Parmesan Grits:
    • 1-1/2 cups chicken broth
    • dash of salt
    • 1/2 cup gluten-free quick-cooking corn grits*
    • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
    • 1 Tablespoon butter

Directions

  1. Generously season chicken breasts on both sides with Cajun or Creole seasoning, plus salt if seasoning mix is salt-free. Mist or spray a large, heavy-bottomed skillet like a cast iron skillet with extra virgin olive oil or nonstick spray over high heat then add chicken breasts and sear until golden brown, 1-2 minute per side. Chicken should not need be cooked through. Remove chicken to a plate then set aside.
  2. Melt butter in olive oil in skillet then add bell pepper, onions, and mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and then saute until caramelized and tender, 6-7 minutes, stirring often to ensure vegetables don't burn. Add chicken breasts back into skillet then pile vegetables on top. Add chicken broth then boil until liquid is reduced by a little more than half and chicken breasts are cooked through, stirring sauce every so often.
  3. Meanwhile, while the broth is reducing, make the parmesan grits. Bring chicken broth and salt to a boil in a saucepan then add grits and turn heat down to medium low. Whisk almost constantly for 3-4 minutes or until thickened but still creamy, lifting the pan for a few moments if the grits start to spatter. Remove pan from heat then stir in butter and parmesan cheese. Place a lid on top then set aside. Taste then add salt if needed before serving.
  4. Scoop grits into bowls then add chicken and vegetables on top. Spoon pan sauce on top then sprinkle with green onions and serve.

Notes

  • Look for a cooking time of 5 minutes on the corn grits package to ensure they are quick-cooking, even if it doesn't say it on the package.

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.

photo collage of saucy smothered chicken with parmesan grits