Blackening was all the rage in the ’80s—largely thanks to Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen, which published a recipe for blackened redfish. The cheat sheet: a lot of butter and a lot of spices. Today, you can buy Prudhomme’s blackening blend—in a 24-ounce container, no less. Or, the Zatarain’s counterpart (beware if you avoid MSG). Or, you can make your own. This recipe yields about 3/4 cup, which will happily live in your pantry. It’s beloved by all seafood—think thin fillets like the redfish original, or broiled shrimp, or pan-seared scallops. Also great: vegetables, smash burgers, chicken. With the last, I like to pound breasts until thin to reduce cooking time. If any protein is in the pan too long, it’ll become too blackened. —Emma Laperruque
Test Kitchen Notes
This recipe is part of Change The Way You Cook, a new series to help anyone (yes, you!) become smarter, faster, and more freewheeling in the kitchen. —The Editors
ground black pepper
1–1 1/2 teaspoons
ground cayenne, depending on your spice tolerance
1 1/2 teaspoons
1 1/2 teaspoons
Chicken with Green Onion Yogurt
Greek yogurt, preferably full-fat
green onions (about 9 stems), finely chopped
Combine the yogurt, chopped onions, and salt in a bowl and stir. Taste and adjust the salt as needed.
Set a cast-iron skillet over medium heat and preheat for at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the chicken. Set 1 breast between parchment sheets and use a meat mallet or any other sturdy object—even a rolling pin—to pound until thin; figure about 1/2-inch. Repeat with the other chicken breast.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in the microwave (or in a small pot on the stove). Brush on both sides of the chicken breasts, then season generously with blackening blend—roughly 1 teaspoon per side.
When the cast-iron is preheated and practically smoking, add the remaining tablespoon butter to the pan and swirl until melted. Immediately add the spiced chicken breasts. Cook for about 4 minutes, until the bottom is deeply charred and releases easily from the pan. Flip, then cook for another 3 or so minutes, until the other side is just as colorful.
Let the chicken rest for a few minutes before serving with the green onion yogurt alongside.
Emma is a writer and recipe developer at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram and Twitter at @emmalaperruque.