- 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
- 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)
- 1 cup crumbled blue cheese
- 4 scallions, whites and greens, finely chopped
Pre-heat the oven to 425°F.
Heat a large ovenproof skillet with 2 tablespoons 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.
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.