This chicken with mustard recipe from David Lebovitz, made with chicken, mustard, thyme, and stock, is a classic French dish.
LC Parlez-Vous Poulet? Note
The thing about chicken—or, as the French say, “poulet”—is that it’s only boring if you allow it to be. And far be it from the French to let anything be less than shamelessly fashionable. And so with this single recipe for poulet à la moutarde from Parisian David Lebovitz, you can assure anyone who asks “Parlez-vous poulet?” that yes, in fact, you do. Quite fluently.
Chicken with Mustard | Poulet à la Moutarde
- Quick Glance
- 30 M
- 1 H
- Serves 4 to 6
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. Transfer 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.
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 in 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 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.