Chicken Tamale Bowl

Chicken Tamale Bowl

Crossing my fingers that I have successfully fended off a sinus infection, I have been drinking a lot of water to stay hydrated and keep any headaches at bay. With five weeks to go before we welcome baby girl Taylor, I would not want to have my energy sapped by a cold and sinus infection. I was looking forward to eating some rice and chicken for lunch today - something simple and fast - only to discover that I have no rice left in my pantry or my kitchen! How in the world did that happen? Pregnancy brain is real!

I had to mentally adjust to the fact that I could not have any basmati rice. In my case, that takes some doing because I love my rice! But I am glad that it allowed me the opportunity today to try out a new dish from Half Baked Harvest, where I regularly blog stalk. Seriously, it is hard not to. I have always wanted to make tamales. I love to eat them but have never attempted to make them. So I have all the ingredients necessary, including the husks to steam them in. I am yet to bring myself to take on the tedious and onerous job of tackling those tamales by myself. From what I have read, I understand that it is not a one-woman task the first time around.

When I stumbled onto this easy peasy tamale bowl, it took very little convincing to make this instead. Give it a shot and you will be amazed at the combination of flavors and the simplicity of this meal. Just what I needed on a lazy afternoon :)


1 1/2 pounds chicken breast or thighs (I used a mix of both - you may also use pork, beef or lentils for a vegetarian version)
2 cups red enchilada sauce (Had some Trader Joe's sauce and it was perfectly delish)
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1 onion, slided
1 red pepper, sliced
1 orange pepper, sliced
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (drained and rinsed if using canned) 
Cheesy Polenta 
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk
1 cup polenta (I had precooked polenta from Trader Joe's -so I just used that and made it creamy)
4 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese shredded, plus more for topping if desired
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2-4 tablespoons butter (your preference) 
For topping 
1 avocado, mashed with a pinch of salt and pepper (or some guacamole)(I just sliced them)
4 ounces queso fresco cheese, crumbled (I used sharp white cheddar, shredded)
fresh cilantro, chopped
crushed tortilla chips (forgot to add these in the photos, but you should do this!)
Heat a very large skillet over medium- high heat and add the olive oil. When the skillet is hot, but not smoking (if it starts to smoke, turn heat down a bit and wait 5 minutes before adding the veggies) add the onions and red and orange peppers. Stir fry the peppers for 3-5 minutes, until they just begin to soften. Remove from the skillet and set aside. Keep warm by covering the plate with foil.
Add another tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Add the chicken and brown on both sides, about 3-4 minutes per side. Once the chicken is browned all over add the the enchilada sauce, chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, cayenne, garlic and onion powder and bring everything to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer the chicken in the sauce for 10-15 minutes or until cooked through and shreds easily.
Meanwhile, make the polenta. Pour the chicken broth and milk into a medium size saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and slowly whisk in the polenta. Cook, stirring frequently, until the polenta is soft and thick, about 15 to 20 minutes. Keep warm and then just before serving, stir in the cheddar cheese and butter, season with salt and pepper. If the polenta seems a little thick you can add a tablespoon of butter or extra milk.
When the chicken is done cooking remove the chicken from the heat and shred the chicken with 2 forks right in the sauce. If your peppers have cooled off too much I would toss them with the chicken to get them warm again. Toss in the black beans until warmed through.
To assemble the bowls, add a nice serving of polenta to each bowl. Top with the peppers and saucy chicken. Finish the bowls off with a dollop of mashed avocado, crumbled queso fresco, chopped cilantro and crushed tortilla chips. Dig. In.


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