Chicken with Mustard ~ Poulet à la Moutarde

This chicken with mustard recipe from David Lebovitz, made with chicken, mustard, thyme, and stock, is a classic French dish.

Man holding a skillet with browned chicken pieces cooked with mustard, wine, and thyme

Many years ago, when prices were ridiculously low, I bought an enormous copper pan at E. Dehillerin, the famed cookware shop in Les Halles. This one-pot chicken with mustard recipe is a perfect fit for your largest, most extravagant pot.

This dish requires you to brown the chicken thighs and legs. Unless you have a very large skillet or Dutch oven, fry the chicken in batches—you want the pieces to have room to brown, not steam, which overcrowding creates. This dish is best served with a tangle of herbed fresh pasta, which is exactly the right vehicle for sopping up the delicious sauce.–David Lebovitz

Chicken with Mustard | Poulet à la Moutarde

  • Quick Glance
  • (9)
  • 30 M
  • 1 H
  • Serves 4 to 6
5/5 - 9 reviews
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Mix 1/2 cup Dijon mustard in a bowl with the paprika, a few generous grinds of the peppermill, and the salt, if using. Toss the chicken pieces in the mustard mixture, lifting the chicken skin and rubbing some of the mustard mixture beneath. Set aside while you tend to the bacon and onion.

Heat a wide skillet with a lid or a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the bacon. Cook the bacon, stirring frequently, just until it’s sorta cooked through and starting to brown, about 4 minutes. [Editor’s Note: This is NOT crisping and rendering the bacon. It’s just cooking it till it softens.] Remove the bacon from the skillet and drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Leave about 1 tablespoon bacon fat in the skillet, discarding the rest. [Editor’s Note: Oh, the horror! Don’t discard the bacon fat. Reserve it for another use, such as sautéing potatoes, frying eggs, gilding popcorn, whatever tickles your fancy.]

Add the onion to the bacon drippings in the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes, until soft and translucent. Stir in the thyme and let cook for another few minutes, then scrape the cooked onion onto the bacon.

Add a little olive oil to the skillet, if necessary, and add the chicken pieces to the skillet in a single layer over medium-high heat. (If the pieces don’t all fit, cook them in 2 batches.) Brown them well on one side, then flip them over and brown them on the other side. It’s important to get the chicken nicely colored, as this coloring—as well as the darkened bits on the bottom of the skillet, called fond—will give the finished sauce its delicious flavor.

Place the chicken pieces on the onions and bacon. Add the wine to the hot skillet, scraping the darkened bits off the bottom with a sturdy flat utensil. Return the chicken pieces to the skillet along with the bacon and onions. Cover and cook the chicken over low to medium heat, turning the pieces in the sauce a few times, until the chicken is cooked through, 15 to 25 minutes. Check for doneness by sticking a knife into the meat next to the thigh bone; if the meat is red, continue cooking for a few more minutes.

Remove the skillet from the heat. Arrange the chicken to a platter and stir the remaining 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard, the mustard seeds or grainy mustard, and the crème fraîche or heavy cream into the pan drippings. If the sauce has reduced and is quite thick, you can thin it with a little warm water, adding a teaspoon or so at a time. Pour the sauce over the chicken, sprinkle chopped parsley over the top, and serve. Originally published October 5, 2014.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

I decided to make this chicken with mustard recipe because my wonderful husband loves mustard chicken. You'll wonder throughout the cooking process for this braised chicken dish if it's going to turn out good and if all the preparation is worth it, and gosh darn it, it is.

There are a lot of steps to this delicious dish. Make it easy on yourself and pre-prep every ingredient. In French it's called mise en place, meaning "put in place," and that's what you do—all the ingredients are measured, chopped, etc. Then all you have to do is line everything up next to your stovetop and voila! 1, 2, 3, 4…you know what comes next, and you won't be scrambling. My husband will only eat white meat, so I had to appease him. I used a whole chicken—2 breasts cut in half, 2 legs, and 2 thighs—and it worked out perfectly. So go ahead and use white meat if you want.

A few tips on this dish: It's very important to get the pan very hot before adding the bacon. You can tell when the pan is hot by adding a little drop of water to the pan. If it turns into a mercury-like ball, the pan is good and hot and you can add the diced bacon. It won't stick to the pan when the pan is hot enough; it just glides over the pan and is easy to sauté. Lower the heat and continue to sauté the chicken, stirring constantly.

The recipe calls for lightly browning the bacon until it's cooked through. It seems impossible to cook the bacon through and only lightly brown it, but follow the instructions and lightly brown it without cooking it through. The melted bacon fat will be delicious and sans burned bits, and the bacon will continue to cook and crisp out of the pan as well as when you add it when braising the chicken. It took about 2 1/2 minutes on medium to lightly brown the bacon. Add the onions and cook until "translucent." Again, don't turn up the heat too much or you'll get burned onion, and that will result in the final taste of the sauce being bitter. Now it's time to add the chicken: You will need to add a TB or so of olive oil before adding the chicken, because when you spoon out the onions, they will have absorbed all the fat, and the pan will be dry. The chicken will need that oil to brown well. The trick here is to add half the chicken pieces, not all; do not crowd the pan or the chicken pieces will boil as they release liquid and not brown. It took about 6 minutes on the first side on medium heat (skin-side down first, always), then about 4-5 minutes on the second side. The next batch cooks a lot faster, as the brown bits that form on the bottom of the pan brown the chicken much more quickly. For the second batch, it took about 4 minutes on the first side and 3-4 minutes on the second side.

Now the magic happens. The chicken doesn't look so great: not beautiful, not cooked through, but once you add the wine and deglaze the pan, add the chicken pieces (all of them now fit in the pan), cover it, and turn every 3 minutes or so. They will take on a beautiful, bronze caramelized exterior, and the fragrance will make you swoon. The recipe says it should take about 15 minutes. I found that it only took about 6 or 7 minutes until the chicken pieces were all cooked through.

Add the extra mustard, crème fraîche, and yellow mustard seeds, bathe the chicken in this delicious sauce, turning over and over. And oh my goodness, you have just created a dinner to remember. Sprinkle the parsley on top, as it adds a touch of elegance. When plating, it can be messy. Just place the chicken pieces on your warmed plate, spoon sauce on top, sprinkle parsley and wipe the plate with a damp towel to clean up any messy sauce spills. It made for a beautiful, elegant, and romantic meal, and my husband loved it.

I’ve made this chicken with mustard recipe twice, and it's a winning dish. The chicken turns out super moist, and the sauce has layers of flavor from the mustard, bacon, onion, and the crème fraîche. It’s exquisite. The first time I prepared this, my chicken pieces were a little bigger, but I was still able to fit them all into a very large skillet without overcrowding.

My only nitpicking about this recipe is the need to keep moving things out of the skillet into bowls and then putting them right back in, but I don’t think there’s a better way. A lazier approach, tempting though it might be, would produce a lesser result. I’d say this serves 4, though perhaps it would serve 6 people at a French table. It would also depend on the size of the chicken pieces and what else was served with it. I served it with a baby spinach and arugula salad and buttered boiled new potatoes with dill.


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  1. This chicken with mustard is a flavorful meal with an incredible sauce that comes together in no time. I used Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc for the wine. My family is not fond of meat on bones, or skin, so I substituted skinless and boneless chicken breasts (4) and thighs (4), and I don’t feel it was missing anything. I did have to add a bit of EVOO before I began browning the chicken. The browning process took me 22 minutes. I had to do it in two batches in my Le Creuset Dutch oven. The 15 minutes braising time was sufficient for boneless meat. I imagine it would have taken longer for bone-in chicken. My sauce didn’t need any thinning in the end. It was the perfect consistency. I finished it off with 3 tablespoons heavy cream, and it was a rather impressive sauce. The only thing I would adjust is not using any additional salt. The bacon and the mustard added plenty, at least for me and my family. I served this with roasted sweet potatoes and sautéed kale, and it was delicious. However, now that I know what an impressive sauce this makes, the next time I make it I will be serving it with a simple pasta, as suggested by the author.

  2. There’s really no way that you can go wrong with chicken, mustard and cream. I’ve made this dish according to the exact recipe, and I made it without measuring a single ingredient. Tonight we’re finishing the leftovers. I diced up the remaining chicken, added a little stock, more mustard and cream in order to make more sauce. Just make it with the ingredients you have on hand. I used chicken breast on the bone, cut in half. Pancetta instead of bacon. Sage instead of thyme. Don’t forget to make it again in about a month!

  3. I recently purchased David’s book My Paris Kitchen and the first recipe I want to try is definitely the mustard chicken. After reading comments in David’s book about the proper mustard, my interest was peeked in Kristel Poole’s comment in her review that she uses a crock mustard she originally purchased in Paris that is available now in the US. I want my dish to be as good as it can be and am wondering if you have any recommendation for a top-of-the-line brand of mustard that is available in the U.S. Sure appreciate your feedback. I am also wondering what brand of mustard other cooks used. Thank you so much for your time.

  4. This is my favorite chicken recipe of all! It’s so good and smells heavenly. And, when I’ve had it for company, I’ve been able to do most of it ahead of time and then do the sauce just before dinner. Since, I can get distracted when we have guests, I do better when a recipe can be cooked ahead at least a little. Now, I am contemplating doing it for a larger get together and the prospect of 2 skillets is daunting. Has anyone tried putting the chicken in a large roasting pan after browning and then making the sauce in the skillet and pouring over the chicken to finish in the oven?

  5. I made this last night for our “Sunday Supper” church group. I was rushed after service to get the ingredients with limited time to get dinner on by 6. Living in a rural area running to the market for last minute items is a negative ghost rider. I get home with all my booty, set everything up to embark on my culinary adventure… re-read the recipe one last time… bacon? Oh no.. What? Rummage through inside BACON…run to outside freezer in a panic, please baby Jesus let there be a lone package of bacon in here…my fervent search waz to no avail. Oh crap… so whip out the cherished can of bacon grease and sauteed the onions…okay, yes I’m blonde, what other excuse could I have for forgetting BACON? Never the less this dish was a HUGE hit with all 10 people. YES, I must admit, I didn’t share my mistake. I am eagerly awaiting a muligain needless to say.

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