Thank you so much for all the anniversary well wishes! It still blows my mind that Ben and I have been hitched for 7 years. I swear just yesterday we were chasing each other around the playground. Oh right, I forgot to mention that we’ve known each other since Kindergarten (same class, even!) and were friends all throughout high school, but didn’t start dating until our senior year in college. As they say on Pinterest or wherever, the best things in life are worth waiting for, the rest is history, and time flies when you’re having fun.
Did I miss anything?
Anyway! We usually head somewhere fun to celebrate – past years included Italy, New Orleans, Vegas (Vegaaas!) Jamaica, and Charleston, but this year we headed to Puerto Vallarta with friends about a month before our anniversary. It was all fun and games and until everyone else’s spring break photos started flooding my Instagram feed over the past two weeks and I came down with a serious case of vacation envy!
Of course we had a BLAST in Mexico, but the only problem with being the first ones to take a spring trip is having to watch everyone else go on theirs after you’re back. Several friends who were joy-posting from Charleston and Savannah nearly put me into an emotional tailspin (omg I am so dramatic!) and since I couldn’t join them, I decided to cook like I was there instead.
Saucy Smothered Southern Chicken with Parmesan Grits is soothing my soul AND stomach!
Cajun-spiced chicken is sauteed then smothered in a succulent veggie 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!
If you’ve been reading IGE for a couple years then you know it practically takes an act of God for me to willingly eat, let alone cook and eat green bell peppers, but I totally love – make that ADORE – ’em when seared over super high heat then paired with caramelized onions and roasty toasty mushrooms. 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. Hollar if you hear me!
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. Like I almost can’t even. But I do. And you absolutely should too. The parmesan cheese is really subtle too, 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?!
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. (FYI I cut my chicken breasts in half because they were enormous!)
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. The high heat and little bit of butter flavor transform these raw veggies into something AMAZING. Your house will smell incredible for hours!
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. Thaaaz it!
While the broth is reducing, get to work on the parmesan grits. I used these gluten-free quick cooking grits. Gluten-free or not you’ll want to 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 will never stop being puzzled that in Iowa, the largest producer of corn in the country, grits are pretty much a non-thing. So sad!
Stir 1/2 cup gluten-free 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 but still creamy. Take the pan off the heat then stir in 1 Tablespoon butter and 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese. Say it with me – thaaz (also!) it. Pop a lid on top then set the grits off to the side to continue softening for a few minutes.
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!
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Saucy Smothered Southern Chicken with Parmesan Grits
Saucy Smothered Southern Chicken with Parmesan Grits is a quick and mouthwatering, healthy yet decadent-tasting dinner!
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Scoop grits into bowls then add chicken and vegetables on top. Spoon pan sauce on top then sprinkle with green onions and serve.
- 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.
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!