Some people are magicians when it comes to turning leftovers into a brand new meal. I'm not one of them. My approach to leftovers? "Reheat and eat."
But for every rule there's an exception. My exception is chili. After making a pot of chili, the leftovers turn into this simple cornbread-topped chili bake.
For the recipe, use your favorite chili recipe as the base. Since mine is meat-free, I sometimes brown one pound of either ground turkey or ground beef and add it to the chili. Then spoon cornbread batter over the chili and bake.
The cornbread bakes up light and fluffy but doesn't overpower the robust spices and flavors of the chili.
However, the cornbread doesn't need to fade quietly into the background. Adapt it to suit your tastes and enhance the chili you use for the casserole. Some nice modifications are adding whole corn kernels, scallions, or ground chili spices.
Recipe adapted from How to Cook Gluten-Free by Elizabeth Barbone. Published by Lake Isle Press 2012
- Cornbread Topping:
- 1 cup gluten-free cornmeal
- 1/2 cup white rice flour
- 1/2 cup sweet rice flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons olive oil, optional
- 1 small onion, finely chopped, optional
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or put through a garlic press, optional
- 1 pound extra-lean ground beef or lean ground turkey
- 3 to 6 cups cooked chili
- 4 ounces (1 cup) cheddar cheese, grated, optional
Preheat the oven to 425oF. Spray a 13 by 9-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. To make the cornbread topping, in a medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, white rice flour, sweet rice flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and xanthan gum. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and oil.
To make the filling with meat. In a large nonstick frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering but not smoking. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the onion is soft and tender, about three minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is soft and aromatic, about one minute. Add the ground turkey or beef and cook, breaking up the clumps with the wooden spoon, until thoroughly cooked and browned. If desired, remove and discard any excess fat. Add three cups of chili. Stir until combined and cook until it begins to bubble. The mixture should be loose but not watery. Add an additional 1/4 cup water if it seems dry. Continue to step four.
To make the filling without meat. Place six cups of chili in a medium pot and heat over medium heat. Stir frequently until chili gently bubbles. The chili should be loose but not watery. Add an additional 1/4 cup water if it seems thick.
Pour the chili filling into the prepared pan. If desired, sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top. Finish the cornbread topping: Pour the egg mixture into the cornmeal mixture. Stir with a fork to combine. Pour the batter evenly over the cheese. Use a spatula or the back of a spoon to spread batter evenly.
Bake the casserole for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cornbread topping is light golden brown and no longer jiggles. A tester inserted into the middle of the cornbread should come out dry. Serve hot. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. This casserole can be frozen.