December is a deceptive month. You have the Christmas songs and the decorations and the temperature goes up and down and hints, rather cruelly, that maybe, just maybe, it won’t be a bitter cold winter after all. Then January hits and you’re walking down the street with your nose falling off from frostbite and you curse yourself for ever trusting December in the first place.
On one of those bitter cold days, then, I have just the meal for you. I call it my Summer in Winter dinner and it does very little to warm you up, but it will conjure thoughts of hot summer days and will make you so happy with memories of warm summer fun you won’t notice the icicles dangling from your private parts.
Actually, I can’t take full credit for this dinner. One half of it–the corn half–comes to us from my friend Luisa Weiss, The Wednesday Chef, via Julia Moskin. Luisa raved about this corn on her blog so effusively (“OMG put down what you’re doing this very instant NOW and get yourself to the store to buy a packet of frozen corn and a few sprigs of fresh mint and then get yourself home FAST FAST FAST cancel plans if you must I don’t care for Pete’s sake and get to work on this recipe which will take you all of ten minutes ‘active time’ to make and will be the most wonderful ten-minute, four-ingredient recipe you’ve made all YEAR”) I knew I had to try it.
It’s a pretty shockingly simple recipe: you buy a packet of frozen corn, you defrost it in a colander in the sink for 30 minutes, then you heat butter in a skillet, you add the corn and cook until it’s caramelized, then you add salt and minced fresh mint. That’s it.
I made one mistake, I think: I didn’t use a non-stick skillet, so the corn formed a thick layer of brown crust on the bottom of the pan as it caramelized which would’ve been a pain to clean up, so I added vinegar to the pan, scraped it all up and stirred it in with the corn. Next time, though, I’d use non-stick.
This corn was really good–maybe not as orgasmic as Luisa found it–but pretty remarkable for so few ingredients and such little work. You definitely should try it.
As for the chicken, I don’t even have a recipe. I decided to improvise it so I bought a large chicken breast, with skin, preheated the oven to 350 and also heated a cast iron skillet. I seasoned the chicken with lots of salt and pepper and added a splash of grapeseed oil to the pan. Then I put the chicken in skin side down, put the lid on and put a box of salt on top (to weigh it down). I left it there for a little bit and then checked on it; the skin was getting beautifully caramelized, so I put the lid back on and the box of salt and let it continue. When it was a perfect bronze-color, I flipped the chicken over (skin side up) and finished it in the oven (cutting in to see when it was done).
This is the night that I also served my lardy apple pie, so it really was a festive warm-day meal for a cool day in December. Come January, I’ll be glad to have this up my sleeve and so will you.