Remember when I started this site, and I didn’t know how to cook, but pretended I did because I thought I was supposed to know how to do things if I was going to write about them? (I abandoned that ethos pretty quickly, but there was definitely a period when I authoritatively delivered tomato sauce recipes that included actual Prego – which I still enjoy as its own thing, because come on, Prego is delicious, but no longer add to meat to make “homemade bolognese.”) My meal repertoire at that point was mostly a rotation of roast chicken from a recipe I’d found in Allure in the ’90s and Bertoli four-cheese tortellini with, yes, Prego.
But writing this site inspired me to do many, many (many many many) things I never would have done otherwise, and among them was learning my way around a kitchen. I don’t consider myself a “food blogger,” obviously – I consider myself a person who likes food, and writes about it, but who still has to solicit advice from Google and my next-door neighbor Alisa whenever I run into something tricky. And while I might make little adjustments to recipes (usually more salt, less pepper, because in my opinion pepper should be illegal) I wouldn’t ever really presume to have improved upon an actual recipe written by an actual food person. I always assume, in other words, that everybody who has ever come up with and published a recipe is a better cook than I am, and I should probably sit down and listen.
And then, last night, this cool little thing happened: I found a recipe I wanted to make on The Kitchn, and as I was reading it I thought…hm. Some of this doesn’t sound like it’ll work quite right.
Not only did I realize, just from a quick once-over of the recipe, that I wasn’t sure a couple of parts of it made sense…I knew how to fix them.
I know that sounds ridiculous and tiny, but it was kind of an aha moment for me: the first time I realized that I don’t just know how to follow recipes, I know how to cook. And it’s because of this site, and because you’ve let me experiment (and frequently screw up) in plain sight for all these years. So thank you for that :).
CREAMY CHICKEN WITH COUSCOUS, BACON AND CORN
Serves four, with plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day.
What You Need:
- 1 1/2 cups couscous
- 8-10 chicken thighs (skinless, skin-on, bone-in, boneless, whatever you prefer)
- 8-10 slices good-quality bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2″ strips
- 1 yellow onion, minced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 2 cups frozen corn, thawed
- 1 lemon
- Salt & pepper
- Radishes (for garnish)
- Parsley (for garnish)
What You Do:
- Preheat the oven to 450F.
- Cook the couscous according to package directions and set aside in a warm place.
- In a large, heavy skillet, cook the bacon pieces until crispy. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving about 2 tbsp of bacon fat in the pan.
- Pat the chicken dry and season on both sides with salt and pepper. Working in batches so you don’t overload the pan, cook the chicken for about five minutes on each side, or until browned and nearly cooked through. Set the browned chicken aside.
- Add a little olive oil to the pan if it looks dry, and throw in the minced onion. Cook, stirring frequently, 2-3 minutes, or until onion is nearly translucent, then add the minced garlic and cook another 30 seconds or so, stirring constantly so that the garlic doesn’t burn.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the cream and all but 2 tbsp bacon to the pan, season with salt and pepper, and stir.
- Return the browned chicken to the pan, give it a little mix so the chicken is coated, cover, and bake in the oven about 20 minutes.
- When the chicken is fully cooked through, return the pan to the stovetop, add the thawed corn, and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the corn is heated through (this only takes a couple of minutes, but you can throw the cover on again if you want).
- Squeeze over the juice of one lemon.
- Serve by topping a scoop of couscous with the chicken and corn, and garnish with parsley and radish slices.
P.S. I don’t want to take credit for these gorgeous photos – they’re from The Kitchn. Lately I’ve been cooking too late at night to take naturally lit photos, and my photography skills, such as they are, do not extend to nighttime photography of food. I thought you’d prefer to see pictures of the dish in which the chicken didn’t appear to be blue, and will replace these shots with my own the next time I make this dish…which may be tonight, because it’s just that delicious.