Fresh sweetcorn slicked in butter and charred with a touch of spice. Old Bay roasted chicken fillet, tender and juicy. Herbed and crispy feta crumbs sprinkled over the dish. It’s a perfect trio.
Three recipes in one
There are in fact three excellent recipes here: roast chicken fillet, fried corn and baked crispy feta. Feel free to use them separately or together, as you wish. The three go together like the three amigos though so make sure you try out the trio.
Old Bay magic
Chicken is the most boring element: a breast fillet, roasted. Not many things are more boring than that. But I discovered Old Bay seasoning a while ago, an American spice blend widely used on chicken and shrimp. The blandest duo, Old Bay transforms them into a lightly umami, plenty homey flavour feast.
It’s a mix of celery salt which on its own is a bit in your face, plus smoked paprika, red pepper and black pepper. If you get hold of it or make your own blend, use it next time you roast a whole chicken. Marinate the bird overnight in salty buttermilk and then scatter Old Bay all over profusely. It will be a transcendent experience.
Butter caramelised sweetcorn
Corn is fresh, kernels shaved off and caramelised in butter. Paprika, chipotle and coriander give the corn flavour – and I usually don’t add salt to it because there is plenty of salt in the feta topping. We usually kill the corn experience in Europe by opening a tin or boiling the ears.
They do it much better in America and Mexico: barbecuing corn in the husks, grilling shucked ears until charred or stripping the kernels to cook them in butter, cream, cheese or all of the above. It also takes much less time to cook even a whole ear of corn than we tend to think. You can turn a shucked ear of corn over on a hot griddle and it’s ready in minutes.
How to strip corn off the cob?
Stripping corn off the cob is easier than it seems: against professional and YouTube advice, I use a small serrated knife and saw the kernel rows off gently. Do it in a large bowl if you like, but unless the corn if freshly picked and super ripe, with its milk spraying the whole place, it won’t make much mess. And in the latter case, the taste will compensate for the cleaning up.
Crispy baked feta crumbs
And finally – feta. Baked feta is divine, tossed with herbs and olive oil, it gets crisp around the edges and breaks into crumbs over a salad or a meat/veg dish like this. Certainly, Greeks know what to do with feta, with their feta saganaki. We most often crumble it raw into our so-called Greek salads with no imagination whatsoever.
All together, chicken corn and feta work beautifully and it has been my recent favourite meal. Frozen corn can be used out of season but I do not recommend using tinned sweetcorn: it is a/ already cooked and b/ pretty awful in general. Mix it into your tuna mayo if you must – otherwise stick to frozen kernels if you can’t get full fresh ears of corn.
How to build the dish?
Roast chicken breast can be served at room temperature, the feta crumbs need not be piping hot either, so start your cooking with those. As they bake and roast, melt your butter and cook the corn in it. It will take about fifteen minutes or less, taste a kernel for tenderness after ten.
When it’s nicely spiced and herbed, plate it up. First spoon piles of sweetcorn on the plates.
Arrange the chicken slices on the sweetcorn.
And finally, top it with the feta crumbs quite liberally. Add some mint leaves for esthetics and you’re good to go. Bon appétit!