It took me a long time to come to grips with the idea that when hosting guests for dinner, most of the meal should be done ahead of time. This way, the food is largely prepared and the mess is cleaned up, and as the hostess you can focus on your guests. This is a key component of French entertaining for sure, and I can remember many nights in Paris arriving for dinner and wondering “How does she do that?” Well, that’s one of the secrets, though of course in France there is also usually a fresh component, nothing over-boiled or tired.
For my family, I tend to prepare more elaborate and last-minute menus, though as it takes several hours for everyone to arrive, debrief, unwind, and experience multiple plates of the meal, that is usually fine. Lately though, I have been making more “make ahead” meals, also with my budget in mind. There are several classic French dishes which are baked or stewed and “made-ahead” that I want to show you.
One of the great French food combinations is Dijon Mustard & White Wine. If you have ever had Lapin Dijonnaise in France, you will know what I mean, but in the States I don’t serve rabbit. And why not adapt the recipe for Chicken?
Dijonnais of course refers to the Mustard in the recipe. There are oh so many ways to make this dish, but this is a simple one and the one I make in Beaune. Hope you will give this a try~
You will need:
3-4 skinless chicken breasts or whole chicken legs
3 Bay leaves
a small handful of Thyme (fresh, or else a tablespoon of dried)
1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil (any kind of vegetable oil)
1 bottle of inexpensive dry white wine
Salt & pepper
Additional Potatoes or Carrots or other veggies for sides
Start with a handful of aromatics: I use bay leaf, thyme and shallot; chop the shallots roughly~
Throw them in a covered casserole pot; I also used the last of some rather tired carrots; slice up and throw them in your pot if you have them, not required~
Prepare the chicken with salt and pepper; add the tablespoon of butter and oil to a frying pan; brown the meat slightly and set aside to cool~
Prepare the coating for the chicken~ In a bowl, place four slightly rounded teaspoons of flour and add to that four tablespoons of white wine. No need for anything fancy, just as long as it is not sweet; this is California Meridian brand wine. When guests come over and drink one glass of white wine, I recork the bottle (don’t tell) and use it in something like this.
Add six heaping teaspoons of Dijon Mustard~
Stir it all up and you get a mustard paste~
This summer I can’t wait to finally visit the mustard factory in Beaune. You can buy this brand worldwide, and I buy it in these great stone crocks at our grocery store in Beaune for just a few Euros; I use the pots later for flowers~
Using a pastry brush, coat the chicken with the mustard paste; set the chicken on top of the herbs and veggies and pour the rest of the bottle of wine on top~
Cover, and bake at 350 degrees for about 1.5 hours. This was perfect today as the meal cooked while I was on a conference call. The mustard coating makes a nice crust, better on skinless chicken~
Tonight we had boiled potatoes and carrots with the dish; I like my veggies slightly underdone and a little crunchy, so that’s what my guests get too! Boil the carrots and potatoes and arrange them on a platter; I got a little ahead of myself, placing one leg on the platter here~
Add the rest of your meat on top~
As I was taking this photo my guests were eating the stew veggies from the pot, so trust me nothing goes to waste; strain everything that was in the pot and boat the sauce~
Plated, it looked like this. Great for a simple, make-ahead meal at a nice price. There is something about the combination of the wine and the mustard, it doesn’t taste at all like mustard or wine, it is slightly sweet and…delicious. There are variations where you add crème to this, but I prefer this lighter version.
Give it a try next time you need an easy meal and want something slightly different….
Tomorrow I am cooking again so more recipes to share.
Bon Week-end a tous~