I think I’m going to start awarding recipes a “God Bless America” title when they’re really really amazing. Remember when I made the Cajun Cake and it was so good all I could say was God bless America, that’s good so that’s what I ended up renaming the cake?
Well, when I ate this smothered chicken today I had the same experience. The onions loved it. Husband loved it. And I loved it. I mean like loved it loved it. There was not one bit of this left when we were done with it. The kids were using their bread to sop up the cheesy bits of potatoes from the bottom of the dish when we were done. I didn't even have to rinse the casserole before I put it in the dishwasher.
The bottom layer is like potatoes au gratin then it’s topped with tender, flavorful chicken and bacon and it’s all smothered in cheese. I mean, come on! Talk about a home run for your taste buds! And the best part? It’s all wrapped up in a perfect casserole.
Before I tell you about the recipe, let me tell you how it is that I came to cook it. My pal, Stacey Little from Southern Bite, just published a cookbook! And I have the honor of reviewing it and hosting a giveaway (details below)!
The way this usually works is that I read through the cookbook, pick out a recipe to cook, make it, tell y’all about it and then host a giveaway. As I was leafing through the book (which is chocked FULL of amazing, easy Southern recipes) I came across Stacey’s Easy Smothered Chicken and just knew I had to make it!
I bought all the stuff I needed to make it and then had an idea. Stacey’s recipe doesn't have potatoes but I got to thinking that all that creamy goodness could easily work with sliced potatoes to make a casserole. And I’m one of those folks who, if I've got to turn my oven on, I’m getting as much out of it as possible! Deciding to use potatoes and make a casserole caused me to make a few other changes as well so what I ended up with isn't exactly like Stacey’s recipe. But they’re definitely close. Like cousins. Like first cousins. Who are buddies.
recipe adapted from the Southern Bite
4-5 medium russet potatoes
1 10.75-oz. can condensed cheddar cheese soup* (such as Campbell’s)
1 1/4 cups milk
8-10 slices of bacon
8 chicken breast tenderloins (about 1.25-1.5 pounds)
4 ounces cheese**, shredded (about 1 cup)
Salt & pepper
Combine cheese soup and milk then whisk until smooth. Reserve 1 cup of cheese soup mixture and set aside to use later.
Wash and peel potatoes then cut into thin slices (about 1/4 inch thick). Spray the bottom and sides of a 13x9 baking dish with cooking spray. Spoon 1/4 of the cheese soup mixture into the bottom of the dish. Add a single layer of potato slices. Season potatoes with salt and pepper. Spoon another 1/4 of soup mixture over potatoes. Repeat this process two more times so that you have three layers of potatoes topped with soup mixture. Don't forget to salt and pepper each layer of potatoes. Cover dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, slice bacon into 1/2-inch strips and cook in a skillet over medium-high heat until bacon is browned and crispy. Remove bacon pieces from skillet with a slotted spoon; set aside.
Season chicken tenderloins with salt and pepper (I actually used my Chicken Scratch seasoning) then sauté in bacon drippings over medium-high heat until lightly browned (we’re not trying to cook them through, just get a nice sear on each side); set aside.
Remove dish from oven and uncover. Arrange chicken tenderloins on top of potatoes and pour reserved cheese soup mixture over chicken. Cover tightly again and continue cooking for 30 more minutes.
Remove dish from oven and uncover. Sprinkle shredded cheese evenly over chicken and potatoes then top with bacon pieces. Return dish to oven and continue cooking, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
UPDATE: Though I have made this many many times and never had this issue (and though an hour is plenty time for three layers of thinly sliced potatoes to cook) a few folks have reported having to cook their casserole longer for the potatoes to get done. Be sure your potatoes are only 1/4" thick and that you only have three layers. If potatoes are not par-cooked and somewhat tender after the first 30-minute cook time, cover again and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes before adding the chicken.
*NOTE FOR CANADIANS... Campbell's Condensed Cheddar Cheese Soup is totally different in Canada than it is in the US. I used it last week on vacation and was shocked at the difference. The colour (you like I spelled it like you do, right?), texture and flavour (and again) are different but it should still work. I just can't promise it will be as delicious. Boo. Yo, Campbell's, what's up with that??
**I used Monterrey Jack because I thought the white cheese would be a nice contrast to the cheddar soup mixture but feel free to use whatever's handy!
Stacey’s recipe calls for thinly sliced onions and I almost layered them with the potatoes but I let Brutus talk me out of it. Consider adding thinly slices onions to yours – I think it would be great!
CONTEST HAS ENDED
To win a copy of Stacey Little’s, The Southern Bite Cookbook, simply leave a comment below with your email address (just one comment per email address, please). If you’re not comfy doing that, you’re more than welcome to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with “The Southern Bite Cookbook” as the subject and you’ll be entered.
Done and done! Easy-peasy, bo-deasy!
I will randomly select and email the winner after 4PM EST on Monday, March 31, 2014.
Giveaway starts today Monday, March 24, 2014 and ends Friday, Monday, March 31, 2014. Contest is open to US residents only.
Winner will have 72 hours to reply to my email or a new winner will be chosen.