above: The perfect dish for family or company any night of the week. – Photographs: skillets contributed
It’s that entrancing time of year when summer and fall collide. Warm days linger a while longer, cooler nights creep along the coast, and everything seems to be in season at once. September greets us with juicy stone fruits like peaches and plums just as the sweet corn begins to say farewell. Come October, apples and pears of myriad variety are on our minds and in our kitchens. Speaking of kitchens, many of us find ourselves back there for the first time in months, perhaps begrudgingly, having traded the heat of the kitchen for the warmth of the sun. Whether it’s back to school, back to work or back to the daily grind, there’s no better way to ease yourself into weeknight dinner duty than with one-pan chicken dishes that celebrate local bounty and bridge the seasons.
If you are reluctant to let summer go, try the Chicken Breasts with Peaches, Corn and Kale. It’s a lively dish that’s gets a subtle pop from very quickly pickled shallots and red pepper flakes. Chicken Thighs with Gingered Apples and Carrots is the perfect recipe for those who yearn for sweater weather. The warm spice of fresh ginger pervades every delectable bite of succulent chicken, tender carrot and lacquered apple.
Our farmer’s markets are the best places to procure such seasonal produce, but picking your own is another way to support your local growers while selecting the finest and freshest ingredients. It’s also a lovely way to pass the day. The most wonderful time of the year in Connecticut really is right now.
Lauren Braun Costello, a native New Yorker and now Westport local, is a classically trained chef, author, expert food stylist and the force behind It’s Lauren, of Course! She has helped countless people become better cooks with her 100 days of cooking live on Instagram. Lauren can be found in her sunny kitchen cooking, of course, or @itslaurenofcourse
Chicken Breasts with Peaches Corn, and Kale
4 chicken breasts, pat dry
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large shallots, minced
¼ cup red wine vinegar
kernels from 6 ears of corn
6 peaches or nectarines, halved and cut into chunks
2 bunches lacinato kale, ribs removed and leaves chiffonade
2 tablespoons butter
½ -1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
kosher salt and black pepper to taste
basil leaves (optional)
Place the minced shallots in a small bowl with the vinegar and set aside. Coat the chicken breasts in the olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Set aside. Heat a large, deep skillet over medium heat and add the chicken breasts to the pan without crowding. Sear on one side for 3-4 minutes, then turn and sear for another 2-4 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Add the shallot and vinegar to the pan and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the corn and stir for one minute. Add the peaches and the kale and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Return the chicken to the pan atop the sautéed vegetables and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Cook over medium-low heat for 5-7 more minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the lid and sprinkle the chicken with red pepper flakes. Remove the chicken from the pan and stir the butter into the vegetables. Season to taste and serve immediately, leaving the chicken breasts whole or sliced, with basil leaves.
Chicken Thighs with Gingered Apples and Carrots
8 chicken thighs (skin-on, bone-in), pat dry
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8-12 carrots, peeled and tops removed
4 tart apples, peeled and halved, core removed
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced
1 cup chicken stock
½ cup apple cider (optional)
chopped parsley to taste
Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and set aside. Heat a large, deep skillet over medium heat and add the chicken thighs to the pan without crowding. Sear on one side for 5 minutes, then turn and sear for another 3-4 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Add the carrots to the pan—there should be plenty of fat from the chicken—sprinkle with salt, and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the apple halves to the pan cut side-down and cook for 2-3 minutes until golden brown; turn and cook for another minute, then remove from the pan. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger to the pan and sauté for 5 minutes, until softened and fragrant. Deglaze the pan with the stock and optional cider. Return the chicken to the pan and carefully tuck in the apples and carrots between the chicken thighs. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook over medium-low heat for 7-10 more minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the lid and sprinkle the chicken with chopped parsley. Season to taste and serve immediately.