Chicken and Chipotle Cream Skillet Bake: Low Carb and Gluten-free

Mexican Skillet BakeThis dish is quick to put together and bake, yet delivers a nice crust, top and bottom, and a creamy Mexican spiced protein-and-vegetable-filled center. It can be made in an hour start to finish, and costs about $12. I used a 10-inch cast iron skillet and it made 5 servings. The Chicken and Chipotle Cream Skillet Bake is great as a leftover, and is good warmed up for breakfast, or taken to work for lunch.

You might think chipotle-pot-pie or chipotle quiche when you bite into it, but it has fewer carbs and only 2 eggs in the biscuity exteriors. We use ½ cup of chickpea flour for our low carb crust, which is perfect since the flavor and texture is similar to cornbread. The batter mixes quickly by hand. While the bottom crust (½ of the batter) bakes in the oven for about 15 minutes, you can assemble the rest of the dish by sautéing a chicken breast cut into ½ slices with an onion, and then adding three pepper halves (a red, a green, and a medium hot poblano).

The bottom crust comes out of the oven at the same time as the chicken on the stovetop is cooked (the oven setting then gets turned to broil). Or it can sit on the counter for a while before you add the chicken filling, in which case refrigerate your remaining batter.

Our “cream” is a combination of Greek yogurt, cream, and chicken broth–this dish requires less than 1½ cups total. Chipotle powder, other pepper powder or flakes (I used mostly Aleppo flakes and a little regular chili powder–just make your own blend until you get right heat level), garlic, and a squeeze of lemon juice. For convenience mix your “creams” in a little bowl then add your other spices, garlic and lemon. That way you can get the flavor just right (because you will taste it!) before you pour into the chicken mixture which then gets spread over the lower baked crust. The filled skillet goes back in the oven under the broiler on a middle rack for 10-15 minutes with the door ajar until the top crust is browned and set (it may need a few extra minutes with the oven door closed and the heat off to completely set). Serve it on the table from the cast iron skillet–use hot pads!

A light salad with a vinaigrette dressing would be a nice companion to this meal.

Turn oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix the chickpea flour batter. Measure ¾ cup of whole milk and add 1T vinegar–this boosts flavor. Melt butter if you are using it. “Temper” the warm butter before you add cold milk or it will lump, which means put a few T of your cold milk/vinegar mix into the butter to cool it down first. Once it’s cool enough, pour the milk and butter (or oil) into the bowl. Crack two eggs into the mixture and incorporate with a fork. Add ½ cup chickpea flour, ½ tsp baking soda and ½ tsp salt and combine, using a whisk or your fork to remove the lumps. A whisk will work in about 30 seconds.

Warm your cast iron skillet on stove for a minute or two and spread your oil of choice on the bottom and sides. Coconut oil is heavenly for this (I use Nutiva brand). Pour ¾ cup of your batter into the skillet, which leaves you about 1 cup remaining. I usually toss in 1-2 T of dried onion flakes, too. Bake on middle rack for about 15 minutes. Check starting at 12 minutes. You want it cooked through and lightly browned so it won’t get soggy when the cream sauce it added. Mexican Skillet Bottom Layer best Remove skillet from oven and turn oven to broil.

These steps below can be started while the bottom crust bakes.

Warm a large skillet on the stove, then add several Tblsp olive oil. Slice your chicken breast into ½ inch sections and begin to sauté. Slice up your onion and add to the pan;
Mexican Skillet_Chx onionsI like to have more onion than chicken because it builds flavor, is nutritious, and costs less money. Add the sliced pepper
after the chicken and onions have cooked a bit so they maintain their texture in the finished dish. I put those in during the last 4-5 minute of sauté time. Turn skillet off.

In small bowl add the yogurt, cream, and broth for your cream mixture. Substitute what you like (eg., half and half or whole milk for the cream but you may need a little more Greek yogurt to thicken) just taste it and finish up with fairly-thick sauce. And always use some chicken broth or it will get too thick. The quantities provided are the way I like the cream to taste–vary them as you please, make it to your liking.

Now time to season the cream mixture; I suggest you do it in the small bowl before adding to the chicken. That way you can taste as you go and get an accurate sample without continually stirring the sauce around the chicken and vegetables in the skillet. Mexican Skillet spicesThe recipe will give you a fairly spicy mix, akin to med-hot salsa. Add in the ¾ tsp of chipotle, and the other hot or medium hot pepper powders or flakes you choose; I make mine exactly as listed in the ingredients–as far as I’m concerned nothing beats Aleppo for it’s depth of flavor and good heat level.  I get mine at Ballard Market although they also sell it at World Spice. Add the two cloves of garlic, salt and pepper to taste, and then a few drops of lemon juice. Taste one more time and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

Mexican Skillet chipotle chicken sauceMix the chipotle cream into skillet with the cooked chicken and peppers and warm the ingredients for a few minutes. Carefully pour or scoop the chicken cream mixture placing it over the bottom crust. Spread the mixture around to the edges of the skillet. Then pour the remaining chickpea batter over the chicken cream vegetable filling. The batter will drizzle into the cream mixture a bit and a few pieces of vegetable or chicken may show through, but that is how it should be.

Sometimes I add a few last Aleppo pepper flakes to the batter on top for color but not too many since the dish is already pretty spicy. I’ve also added a few spoonfuls of cooked black rice I keep in my freezer when I have extras as a colorful top dressing.

The skillet goes on a middle rack with the broiler setting for 10-15 minutes leaving the oven door slightly open–about 3 inches so it doesn’t burn on top. My oven has a convection-broil feature and I use that. It does not take long for the top crust to brown–check it about 10 minutes. The crust also must “set” and be cooked through which may take another 5-10 minutes. In that case, turn oven off and close the door, letting it just bake for a few extra minutes. Remove when it feels firm to the touch.
Mexican Skillet sliced

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