The late Chef Paul Prudhomme is credited with creating blackened fish in the 1980s. I believe the technique is misunderstood even though it’s a fantastic recipe. The secret is simple: fat (either butter or oil), spice mix and a piping hot cast-iron skillet. Make sure to open a window to let any smoke out of the house. I like to serve the blackened chicken over Creole rice pilaf because rice is a Louisiana staple.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with aluminum foil.
For the Creole rice pilaf: Heat the butter and oil in a 2-quart saucepan or large saucepan over medium heat. Add the celery, onions and peppers and cook until the onions are translucent, about 2 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt, add the rice and stir a few times until the rice is coated. Stir in the garlic, bay leaf, tomato paste, garlic powder and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook for about 15 seconds. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook until the liquid is reduced and you see little holes on the top, 15 to 20 minutes. Discard the bay leaf, fluff the rice with a fork and stir in half of the green onions. Cover until ready to serve.
For the blackened chicken: Heat a 12-inch or large cast-iron skillet over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the hot paprika, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, cayenne, white pepper, thyme and oregano in a small bowl and set aside.
Transfer the melted butter to a large bowl. Dip the chicken in the butter and arrange on one of the prepared baking sheets. Season both sides of the chicken liberally with the blackened seasoning mixture. Working in batches, cook the chicken until the first side is blackened, 3 to 4 minutes depending on the thickness of the chicken. Flip and cook for 1 minute more. Transfer to the second prepared baking sheet.
Bake until the chicken breasts are firm to the touch and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part reaches 165 degrees F, 5 to 10 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes. Serve over the Creole rice pilaf and garnish with the remaining green onions.
This recipe can be adapted to make blackened fish, steak or sweet potatoes (adjust the cooking times for each ingredient). Instead of hot paprika, use sweet paprika.