18 July 2013

Grilled Chicken Cornbread with Peaches & Pepper Jack

So the hubs was out of town last week, which meant I really got to play in the kitchen.  Perhaps it's the fact that we're still pretty-newlyweds, but I usually try to stick with dishes that he will enjoy throughout the week.  Granted, he gives me a pretty wide berth with things like Watermelon Habanero Gazpacho and Pesto Pomegranate Pasta.  But when he goes out of town, I tend to get even wackier.  Why not have an artichoke white wine sauce with my turkey meatballs?  Sure I'll try a goat cheese, strawberry and asparagus breakfast burrito.  (For the record, both of those were delicious.)  But one of my little creations absolutely took the cake last week!  Or should I say cornbread?  This will be recreated for the hubs without a doubt.

Now I lovelovelove cornbread.  Love.  As in, it's almost indecent.  I have little squares of golden bread frolicking with butter and honey in my dreams.  And for some reason, the craving gets even worse in the summer.  This year I have made it my personal mission to perfect cornbread.  There are so many recipes out there but very few that offer the Yankee-Southern combo that I yearn for - just slightly sweet and cakey.  The Southern style tends to be a bit too dry to slice and eat with butter while the Yankee style is inherently so sweet that the honey drizzle becomes overkill.  While I work on it, I have found a recipe that keeps me contented but I'd love to make something a little more figure friendly...stay tuned.

My original concept behind these little suckers was to make cornbread sliders.  I mean, come on...those just sound scrumptious.  But after the assembly began, I realized that a top bun would have been way more food than necessary.  So I gave up the top and just went with these little open-faced sammies (slides, if you will).  The rest is an homage to the glory of summer foods.  Fresh sliced avocado and peaches are topped with simply grilled chicken and pepper jack cheese for a wacky unique yet delicious combination.  The hint of fruit and avocado are lovely with the warm chicken a slight spice.  Cornbread is the perfect base - its lovely moist texture and density are perfect.  I love grilling up the chicken in my homemade Peach Barbecue Sauce for an extra little oomph of fruit and spice, but you could go with any barbecue sauce you prefer.

The best thing about this dish is the combination of grilled and fresh elements.  The grilled cornbread and chicken provide a lovely toasty flavor while the fresh peaches and avocados are cool and fresh.  I considered grilling the peach and avocado, but you know what they say about hindsight.  Good call leaving them raw.  Melty pepper jack cheese brings everything together to create delicious little slides that are perfect with a side of veggies for a summer lunch or dinner.  This begs to be served with a refreshing summer cocktail, so get ready to bust out your martini glass or mason jar.

Grilled Chicken on Cornbread w/ Peaches & Pepper Jack (2 servings)
  • 2 large squares cornbread 
  • 4 chicken breast tenders (about 8 oz)
  • 4 tbs Peach Sriracha Barbecue Sauce (or your favorite sauce)
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/2 peach
  • 2-3 oz pepper jack cheese
Preheat the grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.  Season the chicken tenders with salt and pepper.  When the grilling surface is hot, add the chicken and cook for about 4-5 minutes until the edges around the bottom are white, then flip and cook for another 4-5 minutes until tenders are cooked through and firm.  

Cut the cornbread in half (hamburger-way, not hotdog-way).  While the chicken is in its last two minutes of cooking, add the cornbread to the grill pan and lightly toast.  When ready, remove the cornbread and chicken to a cutting board.  

Turn your broiler onto high and move the rack to the highest setting under the heat.  Line a baking sheet with tin foil and spray with non-stick.  Place the sliced cornbread grilled side up on the foil.  On your cutting board, thinly slice the avocado and peaches.  When everything is sliced, lay the chicken tenders on top of the cornbread and top with slices of peaches and avocado.  Cover each stack with a thin slice of pepper jack cheese about 1/2 ounce in weight (or more if you prefer a cheesier meal).  Place under the broiler and toast until the cheese is melted and is just starting to brown, about 2 minutes.  Serve hot. 

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