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A Sheet-Pan Chicken for Corn Season

A Sheet-Pan Chicken for Corn Season

The beginning of corn season requires speed and simplicity. You want the fastest, easiest way to get that pile of evanescently sweet, nubby cobs on the table, ready for butter-slathering and gleeful chomping. A dip in boiling water, a quick sear on the grill or even a zap in the microwave all make the most of those fleeting first ears without much fuss.

But, as the season advances, the desire to mix it up inevitably sets in. Now is the time for recipes that require a bit more time and work, yet are absolutely worth the delayed gratification.

My basil chicken with corn and jalapeños, a sheet-pan meal that brings out the more complex side of summer corn, is made for this moment. Preparing it isn’t hard, but you will need a half-hour at the very least to marinate the chicken in mayonnaise, basil, garlic and a few tablespoons of brine from a jar of pickled jalapeños.

While you’re off doing something (or nothing) else, the brine and mayonnaise work their magic together, adding both salt and spice, and locking in the juiciness of boneless chicken thighs. The egg in the mayonnaise helps the skinless meat turn golden as it roasts, which it does more effectively than oil alone.

I toss the pickled jalapeños with the corn kernels, then scatter the mixture around the thighs so that the corn caramelizes as it roasts, the jalapeños mellow and the fat from the chicken brings it all together.

The simplest way I’ve found for cutting the corn kernels from their cobs is to lay the shucked ear down on the cutting board, then slice off the kernels, rotating the ear as I go. Standing the ears up — whether in a bowl or balanced in the center tube of a Bundt pan — always sends the kernels flying all over the place, at least in my kitchen. Use whatever method works best for you, of course, but save those cobs. They lend loads of flavor and body to stocks and soups.

When you first add the corn mixture to the pan, it may seem like a lot, nearly burying the chicken, but rest assured the corn shrinks a lot as it cooks. In the end, it’s exactly right: a generous helping to celebrate the moment when corn season reaches its glorious peak.

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