Saturday, March 01, 2008

Recipe: Chicken with Mustard Sauce

Here’s a wonderful marriage of chicken and mustard. When I’m in a fancy mood, I call it Poulet de Moutarde en Croute, though the ‘in crust’ part is an exaggeration. But if you’re patient enough, you can certainly get a good crunch going! Sadly, this is one of those recipes that I can only cook while Cathy is away. Though I’ve managed to sneak mustard into loads of food that she’s eaten with delight, this one is still a little too up front mustardy for her tastes. But I’ll keep tryin’ . . .

The hardest part of this recipe is realizing at least 3 hours before dinner that this is what you want!

Here’s what you’ll need (per serving):

1 boneless, skinless breast of chicken
¼ - 1/3 tsp. sesame oil
1/3 – ½ tsp. liquid smoke
5 – 10 drops Tabasco Sauce
1/3 – ½ tsp. turmeric
1/3 – ½ tsp. cilantro
2 tsp. prepared mustard (brown or Dijon – not yellow, please . . .)
¼ - 1/3 cup White wine
2 – 3 Tbsp. flour
Tellicherry (fresh ground black pepper)
(veggie medley, whole ‘boiled’ potatoes, or other accompaniments of your choice)

Here’s how you do it:

Gather your ingredients, and start by building your chicken coating, which will also become your sauce.

Poulet de Moutarde ingredients

I included quantities in the ingredients list, but as you may know if you’ve explored this blog, I seldom actually measure anything. So, it’s a pinch of this, a sploosh of that, a shake of the other, and there you go. I start this with the oil, liquid smoke and Tabasco. Give them a whirl with a fork or a whisk, and then add the turmeric and cilantro, and whisk them in, too.

Whisk up everything except the mustard

Now add your mustard and whisk that in.

Poulet de Moutarde coating

Now let this mixture rest for 30 minutes to allow all the flavors to blend and meld completely.

After the half hour rest, rinse your chicken and pat it dry.

Get ready to coat

Give it a goodly grind or five of Tellicherry.

Pepper that chicken!

And slather first one side and then the other with your mustard coating. Depending on how aggressive you like your mustard, you could lightly pierce the chicken with a fork before (or even after) coating, to allow the flavors to reach deeply into the meat. Me, I prefer the physical layers of flavor, with the mustard coat on the outside of the chicken, but hey, you do it your way, please . . .

Poulet de Moutarde coated

Now, rest period again. At least another 30 minutes; an hour, if possible. No, you don’t have to put it in the refrigerator; there’s enough salt and vinegar in the mustard and Tabasco to at least inhibit, if not kill, any Salmonella lingering in your chicken. And since you rinsed it and patted it dry before coating, you got rid of any surface bacteria before you even started. But if you’re truly paranoid about food bugs, go ahead and put it in the fridge; just be sure to leave it for at least an hour; the cold really slows down the uptake of the flavors.

While your chicken rests (this time – there’s another rest hour coming later!), scrape any big piles of extra coating from the chicken plate back into the mixing bowl, and add the white wine. Whisk it all up and set it aside. This will become the base for the final mustard sauce.

Poulet de Moutarde sauce starter

Now is also the time to prep your veggies and starch for the meal. Tonight, I did up a medley of cauliflower, broccoli, carrots and onions, which I steamed in a little white wine. (I also put a tiny drizzle of olive oil in the bottom of the pan before I added the veggies.) Add a pinch of Kosher (or other coarse) salt and a few goodly grinds of Tellicherry, and then pour the splash of white wine on top. These will go on the heat about 30 minutes before serve time.

Poulet de Moutarde veg medley

And when I can, I prefer to ‘boil’ my potatoes with the skin on (give them a good scrub under running water, first). Of course, as I think I’ve mentioned elsewhere, boiled potatoes, in my book, should actually be intimidated potatoes. Put them in the pot of water; put the pot over high heat until you just begin to hear some ‘action’; turn the heat to low (salt if you must), and let the tubers evolve into perfectly tender, creamy textured spuds over the next hour or so.

Poulet de Moutarde taters

But before you put heat to potatoes, you’ll need to ‘en croute’ the chicken. And let it rest again.

I always use a strainer to sift my flour onto the chicken for a dish like this. You don’t have to, but if you just shake the unsifted flour, the texture of the final cooked coating will be much ‘thicker’ and lumpier – not necessarily bad things, but not what I prefer for this dish.

Poulet de Moutarde ready to crust

So, strainer in one hand, flour in the other, dump a little flour into the strainer and shake (gently, gently) the strainer across the surface of the chicken until you’ve completely coated the surface of the mustard.

Poulet de Moutarde top coated

Then, gently (hmm, lotsa gentlies in here!), turn the chicken over and coat the other side the same way. Turn the chicken back over, and put another light coat of flour on the top.

Poulet de Moutarde coated

Now let it rest for an hour. Over the hour, the flour will absorb moisture from the mustard coating and create a kind of delicate crust on the surface of the chicken. There will still be loose flour on the outer surface, but the interior will develop some ‘character’, which you’ll find when you eat the chicken.

When you’ve got your chicken resting, put some heat under those potatoes. You’ll be serving dinner in about 70-90 minutes.

So when the final chicken rest period is about done, get your skillet warmed up and put a Tbsp. or two of olive oil in the bottom. Swirl, twirl, shake and, when you’ve got heat, toss in the chicken. Oh, and put your veggies over medium high heat, too.

Poulet de Moutarde cook chicken

As soon as the chicken starts sizzling, turn down the heat and cook for about 10 – 12 minutes. You want the outside to turn a rich dark brown but stop well before burn or blacken. On my stove, that means the 8 o’clock spot on the heat dial; your mileage will be different.

A bit after you turn the heat down under the chicken, do the same under the veggies. You want to get a head of (wine) steam in the pot, but don’t want to let anything burn. After reducing the heat, the veggies will need about 10 – 15 minutes to reach perfection. Then they can come off the heat (still covered) and sit for up to 10 minutes more.

Turn the chicken after 12 minutes and cook the other side for another 10 or so. Once again, you are seeking dark, not burned.

Poulet de Moutarde chicken turned

When the chicken is done, take it out of the pan and let it rest,

Poulet de Moutarde chicken done

while you get your sauce started. Toss the white wine-rinsed left over mustard coating into the hot skillet. Swirl, scrape, and stir to get all the crunchy bits from the pan dissolved into the liquid.

Poulet de Moutarde sauce

Drain in any lingering liquid from the steamed veggies and maybe a splash of two of water from the potatoes. Bring the pan sauce to a boil and let it reduce, reduce, reduce!

Poulet de Moutarde reduce that sauce

Poulet de Moutarde reduce that sauce more

Poulet de Moutarde reduce that sauce still more

When the sauce is right, put potato and vegetables onto the plate, pour the sauce,

Poulet de Moutarde sauce on plate

add the chicken, and enjoy!

Poulet de Moutarde served


  1. Anonymous9:59 AM

    Sounds delicious, but definitely way too much mustard for your wife. She sure does miss you, tho.
    Mrs J

  2. After reducing the heat, the veggies will need about 10 – 15 minutes to reach perfection