Due to my daughter’s braces, our family’s corncob summer palooza has been temporarily discontinued. Corn is still on the menu – thank goodness – but the kernels must be cut from the cob, lest any gnawing damage the delicate infrastructure of modern orthodontics.
The benefit of all of this is that my kernel kernel repertoire has expanded beyond salads, creamed corn, and cornbread.
In this quick one-pot recipe, I paired almonds with boneless, skinless chicken thighs seasoned with browned butter, basil, and a squeeze of fresh lime for a rich, sweet, tangy, herbal dish. and a brace-bearing friend and their corn-loving companions. (It’s also great for those looking for something easy to make for dinner on any summer night.)
The quickest and least messy method I’ve found of cutting the kernels off a corn cob is to lay the cob flat on a cutting board, then slice the kernels, turning as you cut. Keeping the ear in contact with the board prevents grains from flying all over your kitchen like they would if you were holding the ear in a bowl. Using a long, thin-bladed knife also helps.
You will need about 1 1/2 to 2 ears of corn to produce enough kernels for this recipe. Or you can use frozen corn. You don’t even have to thaw the grains first; they’ll thaw in less than a minute once they touch the sizzling mixture of butter and chicken juices in the bottom of the pan.
For those who prefer chicken breasts, if you’re wondering if you can replace them with thighs, the answer is yes. White meat has a narrower margin of error than dark meat; exceeding even a minute can dry it out. Sear them lightly and be careful not to overcook them at the end.
Feel free to add other quick-cooking vegetables to the pan with the corn. A handful of baby spinach, strips of zucchini, or cubes of ripe tomatoes wilting on your counter are particularly welcome. Just add a little salt and lime juice to taste.
You won’t need much to top this – maybe a lettuce or cucumber salad, and maybe a loaf of bread. But nothing too hard and crunchy, at least if there’s a braces wearer at the table that night.
Pan-Seared Chicken Thighs with Brown Buttered Corn
This perfect weeknight recipe combines sweet corn kernels with sautéed boneless chicken thighs. Easily prepared in a large skillet, the chicken is cooked first before the corn kernels are added to sauté in the cooking juices, seasoned with garlic, thyme and plenty of browned butter. Finished with torn basil, lime juice and green onions, it distinguishes between rich and sweet, and tangy and fresh, all in under 30 minutes.
By Melissa Clark
Yield: 4 servings
Total duration: 30 minutes
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1 1/4 pounds)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves of garlic, finely grated or minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (1 to 2 cobs; see Tip)
1/2 cup torn basil leaves
Lime wedges, for serving
2 green onions, thinly sliced, for serving
1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Rub the garlic and thyme over the chicken and set aside while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and 1 tablespoon of butter, letting the butter melt. Add the chicken and sear, without disturbing it, until browned on both sides, about 4 to 6 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
3. Over medium heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until foam disappears and smells nutty and toasty, 2 to 3 minutes. (Watch carefully to see that it doesn’t burn.) Add the corn and a big pinch of salt and black pepper. Sauté until tender and golden, 2 minutes.
4. Return the chicken to the skillet. Cover and cook until chicken is cooked through and corn is caramelized, about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and taste the corn, adding more salt and pepper if needed. Stir in basil and squeeze 2 lime wedges over top. Serve garnished with sliced green onions and lime wedges.
Tip: The least messy way to cut the kernels from a corn cob is to lay the cob flat on a cutting board and slice the kernels, turning the cob as you go. Keeping it flat helps prevent grains from flying all over the kitchen.