Here’s the thing: now that I’m making recipes printable, I feel a new responsibility. I used to just write little essays about how I added a pinch of this and a drop of that and I’m realizing now how useless that was: the people want printable recipes! And I get that because when I first started cooking, I followed recipes to the letter. You want to replicate the image you see in the picture and you want to know exactly how it’s done.
So let me explain the dinner you see before you: I had chicken breasts. I had corn, peppers, onions, scallions, and lots of other vegetables from a recent (terrifying) trip to the grocery store. A few weeks ago, I made an incredible corn dish involving bacon and all of the same vegetables (see here on Instagram). Knowing I had skin-on chicken breasts, I thought: what if I sear the chicken breasts and then cook the corn in the same skillet, working up the brown bits for that same meaty effect?
The result was a one-pan dinner that screams summer and also cozy, weeknight comfort.
First things first: how to cut fresh corn off the cob. See the picture above? That’s the best set up: put a little bowl upside down in a much larger bowl. Then hold the corn on top of it and cut straight down with a very sharp knife. The corn will stay inside the bigger bowl (this is a tip everyone says at some point, and now I’m saying it too.)
The other star of the show here is the chicken fat that renders out of the skin-on breasts when you sear them in the skillet. Here’s the thing about chicken breasts: they’re not sexy, but when they’re skin-on, bone-in, they’re at least making an effort. Like putting on makeup even though you didn’t take a shower.
Coating all of the vegetables in the chicken fat, plus working up those brown bits at the bottom of the pan (a little cider vinegar helps), not only helps cook the corn just enough without having to boil it first, it gives everything a magnificent chickeny flavor that marries your protein and side.
I threw in a tomato at the end which made things very juicy. If you don’t want juicy, leave out the tomato. But the juiciness made the corn almost like a sauce that helped keep the chicken moist. The other thing that keeps the chicken moist is a thermometer: use it to finish the chicken in the oven and take it out when it’s at 160 (it’ll keep cooking a little as it rests).
You’re probably confused because I never showed you a picture of me searing the chicken breasts first, but it’ll all make sense in the recipe below. Which brings this post full circle: now I don’t have to explain the whole cooking process in the essay that you’re scrolling past anyway. Printable recipes: they just make sense.
Skillet Chicken Breasts with Corn, Peppers, and Scallions
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 red onion, chopped
- 6 scallions chopped, whites and greens separated
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 1 Fresno chili or jalapeño, minced
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
- 4 ears fresh corn, shucked and cut straight off the cob
- 2 Tbs cider vinegar
- 1 large tomato, chopped Optional: only if you want it saucy!
- 1 Tbs butter Optional: I didn't add it, but if you do it'll make the dinner even better.
- Preheat the oven to 425.
- Add the olive oil to a large metal skillet and heat on medium-high heat. Season the chicken breasts all over with lots of salt and pepper and then place, skin-side down, in the skillet. You should hear an immediate sizzle. Cook for several minutes until the skin is deep, dark golden brown. Flip over with tongs and then place the skillet in the oven.
- Cook the chicken in the oven until a thermometer registers 160 – 165 when inserted into the breast. Takes about 20 – 30 minutes, depending on their size.
- Carefully remove the skillet from the oven and remove the chicken to a plate to rest.
- Place the pan back on medium-high heat and add the red onion, the white parts of the scallions, and the red pepper with a pinch of salt. Cook, working up the brown bits as you go, until softened.
- Add the Fresno chili and the garlic and cook a minute more, until the garlic is fragrant.
- Now add the corn, stir all around, and sprinkle with more salt. Cook until the corn is glossy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cider vinegar, using it to work up any brown bits that remain at the bottom of the pan. If you're using the tomato, add it here too with another pinch of salt.
- Cook the vegetables until most of the liquid is gone. If you're using the butter, now's the time to add it: it'll help thicken the sauce and make everything even more shiny. This is also the time to taste the corn. Adjust for salt and acid.
- Sprinkle the green parts of the scallion over the corn, stir it in, then spoon on to plates and serve with the well-rested chicken breasts.
Sweet Summer Corn with Bacon and Balsamic Onions (Amateur Gourmet)
Corn Chowder Salad (Smitten Kitchen)
Sautéed Chicken Breasts With Fresh Corn, Shallots and Cream (NYT)
Julia Moskin’s Caramelized Corn with Fresh Mint (The Wednesday Chef)
Vaghareli Makai, Spiced Indian Corn (David Lebovitz)