Perhaps I need to think of a better name for this dish, one that conveys the truly amazing flavor and completely satisfying mix of ingredients my husband created when he first made this a couple of years ago. At the end of summer we had more plobano peppers, tomatoes and garlic than we knew what to do with. I also had a couple of bags of Patrick Henry corn meal left over from thanksgiving. The result was an all in one entree of black beans, onions, pulled dark chicken meat, and tomatoes sauteed in chicken fat and piled atop freshly baked cornbread that has been made with roasted ploblanos tossed into the batter. Our favorite sharp cheddar was grated over top, and the whole mess was placed back in the oven till the cheese was nicely melted. Pursuing the strictly virtuous goals of frugality, making do, waste not, and all that my husband created a sinfully delicious meal.
When he made this dish I had just finished reading Nina Plank's writing on schmaltz a.k.a. "chicken fat." We didn't make our own schmaltz, we just saved the fat from the brined and baked chicken we'd eaten a couple of nights before. It's the chicken fat that makes this meal so delicious without a doubt, but the fire roasted ploblanos and oven roasted garlic don't hurt either.
This meal has never quit tasted so good as it did that first last summer night, but that seems often to be the way. None the less, if your like us and you've put up tomatoes and frozen bags of roasted peppers this dish makes a wonderful tribute to warm days ahead in the midst of snow covered ground and gray skies above. Enjoy!
For us this meal is the result of a three day process.... don't let that scare you.. each day has it's own rewards. We have baked chicken the first night, pull the chicken and make stock the second night, and prepare this dinner the third night. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the stock for this recipe and use the rest as you like, freezing for soups to be made later etc.
Watch out for salt! If your like me you automatically add some salt while sauteing, however, if you've brined your chicken the fat from the drippings will be salty and no salt should be added to the topping.
1. Place one head of garlic, wrapped in foil if you don't have a crock, in oven to roast. This takes about 30 minutes at 35o. Remove from oven and let cool.
2. 2 Ploblano peppers roasted, pealed and chopped : Make cornbread following the instructions. We use whole milk and an egg. Mix the chopped ploblanos into the batter and bake in a flat 8x8 cake pan.
3. While cornbread cools place about 1tbsp chicken fat in skillet over med-high heat.
4. Once fat has liquefied add one medium onion diced and saute for about 2 minutes.
5. Add the pulled dark meat from the chicken (it should be about 1 cup), and add 5 cloves of roasted garlic by simply squeezing out the softened center of each clove into the pan. Cook for about 1 minute more. Add little bits of chicken stock as needed to create a moist sauce.
6. Add about 10oz of black beans, drained and rinsed. Cook 1 minute.
7. Add one small tomato, chopped, making sure there is a little sauce down at the bottom. Remove from heat once thoroughly mixed and tomatoes just heated.
8. Cut cornbread in half. Then cut half into 2 wedges. Cut each wedge in half on the horizontal so as to have two flat wedges. For each serving lay the 2 thinner cornbread wedges together on a piece of foil or in an individual oven to table baking dish, to create a sort of flat cornbread circle. Divide topping and juices evenly across cornbread and top with grated sharp cheddar (about 1/4 cup per serving). Place in oven at 350 and baked just until cheese is fully melted.