Jalapeño Popper Chicken

This recipe is one that’s been taunting me from my Pinterest boards for months. I pinned it with intentions of making it ASAP… and then I kept forgetting. Of course, I spent many evenings struggling to come up with a menu plan before I went grocery shopping, lamenting the fact that I was continuing to put my old standards on the list, per usual. If only I had a source for creative and new ideas! DEAR TINA, STOP BEING SO DENSE. I mean, I pin approximately 25 new things a week, yet I struggle to remember to LOOK at my pins. It’s hard being me, man.

Anyways, I was browsing my main dish pins the other day, when I realized that I had EVERYTHING I needed for this chicken, just sitting in my kitchen and waiting for me. And so, Jalapeño Popper Chicken was added to the menu of the week. And it was good.

As always, I will post the recipe as I made it. However, you can see the original pin here, which links back to here.

Jalapeño Popper Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 egg, beaten
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 slices of bacon, chopped
1/4 cup pickled jalapeños, chopped
1 can of Rotel diced tomatoes and green chiles, drained very well
1.5 cups chicken broth
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 T olive oil or vegetable oil

1.) In a small skillet or sauce pan, cook your chopped bacon until crisp (a little hint here: remove it from the pan just BEFORE it looks done. If it already looks done, it’s likely going to end up a bit overdone. Learn from my many years of overcooking my bacon!). Remove it to a paper-towel lined plate, and allow the remaining grease to cool down enough that you can pour some of it off.

2.) While the bacon is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat, and add the 2T of oil to the pan to heat up. Combine cornmeal, chili powder, smoked paprika, salt and pepper on a plate or in a shallow bowl. In a separate bowl, beat your egg. Dip each chicken breast first in the egg, then in the cornmeal mixture, and then place in the skillet (make sure to place them so that you’ll have room for all 4 – once they’re in the pan, you don’t want to move them until they’re ready to flip)!

3.) Back to the sauce – drain of all the bacon grease except about 2 teaspoons (you can keep it in a jar for another use, or dispose of it if you prefer – but for the love of all that is holy, do NOT pour it down the drain. That is a plumbing nightmare waiting to happen)! Add your chopped jalapeños and Rotel to the remaining bacon grease (over medium heat), and saute until they’re warmed through. Add your chicken stock, and let it come to a simmer, then add the cream cheese. Stir frequently until the cream cheese is fully incorporated. Add your reserved bacon back into the sauce.

4.) Back to the chicken – once side one is golden brown, go ahead and flip each chicken breast. If the chicken is sticking to the pan when you try to flip it, it’s not ready yet – give it another minute or two before you try to flip it. Cook on the second side until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through. When you flip the chicken, go ahead and preheat the broiler in your oven.

5.) When the chicken is cooked through, place it on a baking sheet lined with foil (I mean, it doesn’t HAVE to be lined with foil – if you like scrubbing baked-on cheese off your pans, I won’t be the one to tell you you can’t). Sprinkle the shredded cheddar evenly over the 4 chicken breasts, and pop them under the broiler. They should only need a minute or two for the cheese to melt and brown – keep a close eye on them, so you don’t accidentally burn all your hard work!

6.) Once the cheese is all melty and delicious on your chicken, plate them up, and spoon a healthy serving of sauce onto each chicken breast. Serve with a big green salad, or other side of your choice!

I cannot tell a lie, this recipe a.) is not the most photogenic (sorry!), and b.) dirtied up quite a few dishes… but I’d say it was worth it. It was a great twist on the old standby chicken dinner, and it only took about 30 minutes from start to finish!

-Tina

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