Make Ahead = Happiness


ATTENTION!! ATTENTION!! There is a new Rachael Ray Show on the Cooking Channel (a sister network to the Food Network) and it is awesome!  The show is titled “A Week in a Day” and Rach cooks 5 make ahead meals, in one day, that can be served every night of the week!  I am not that organized, but one day I might have to try this out.  This is one recipe from her new show and I did make it earlier in the day.  It was super easy and it tasted delicious. Enjoy!


Buffalo BBQ Pulled Chicken with Blue Cheese Cornbread Topper

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 3-4 small ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped or grated
  • 1 Fresno or Holland chili pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme (I used 1 Tbsp dry)
  • 1 bottle lager beer or 1 1/2 cups chicken stock (12 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 can tomato sauce (14 ounces)
  • 1/4-1/3 cup hot sauce, depending on desired heat level (medium to spicy)
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 4 pieces poached chicken breast, meat pulled or chopped
  • 2 boxes corn muffin mix, prepared according to the package directions, such as Jiffy brand (8.5 ounces each) (I absolutely LOVE Trader Joes boxed cornbread and it’s around 15oz so use 1 box)
  • 1 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 4 scallions, whites and greens, finely chopped (You can sometimes find pre-chopped scallions @ Publix near the pre-chopped onions…. super time saver!)





Pre-heat the oven to 425°F.



Heat a large ovenproof skillet with 2 Tbsps EVOO, two turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the celery, carrots, onion, garlic, chili pepper, salt, pepper and thyme and sauté to soften the vegetables, 10-12 minutes, then deglaze the pan with the beer or stock.



Stir together the brown sugar, tomato sauce, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce and vinegar in a bowl. Pour into the skillet and stir to combine. Mix in the chicken pieces using tongs and cool and store for a make-ahead meal.



Reheat over medium heat just to warm it up while you mix together the cornbread topper or, to serve immediately, keep warm on low while you mix the cornbread batter, then transfer to the oven and bake until the top is deep golden brown.



Cook’s Note: The filling may be transferred to a casserole dish if your skillet cannot transfer to the oven.  (I used cast iron skillet to re-heat, spread cornbread topping on top, and cooked in the skillet = one pot meal)



For the topping: Follow the package directions for the cornbread batter, then stir in the blue cheese and scallions. Pour the batter over the chicken filling in an even layer and bake to golden brown and firm to the touch, about 12-15 minutes.  (Use your judgment and add time if cornbread is not cooked thru, I added an extra 10 or so minutes to my cooking time)


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