Mustard Chicken (Nancy’s or Ina’s?)

mustard chicken plated 2**

I was watching an episode of the “Barefoot Contessa” recently, and she was making a chicken dish that looked rather familiar.   The ingredients were reminiscent of a dish that I was first introduced to in the late 1970’s.   When Ina Garten presented the perfectly cooked chicken on a platter, I immediately recognized it. She had made Nancy’s “mustard chicken.” But as only Ina Garten can do, she stepped it up a notch, and added a few different ingredients, and twists and turns to the recipe. Now I’m not saying that she took the recipe from my friend. I’m sure she didn’t, but I think that perhaps she took an old recipe and perfected it.   I couldn’t wait to find my old recipe, and see what exactly the changes were.

I had filed this recipe away ages ago, but after much searching, I did find it. I compared the two recipes and found that they were somewhat different. There were breadcrumbs in both recipes, but of course, Ina made her own seasoned breadcrumb mixture with fancy Japanese panko breadcrumbs, which didn’t even exist in the USA in 1979. We used old reliable Progresso seasoned breadcrumbs. Ina combined the Dijon mustard with white wine. We used any mustard, combined with vinegar. There were a few differences in method as well, but I knew that the taste was probably similar.

This was a favorite dish of mine, so I was eager to try Ina’s recipe and compare. It had to be delicious. She’s the “Barefoot Contessa” after all.   At the very least, I was delighted to resurrect this old recipe. And of course, the memories flooded back to me, and I started remembering all the recipes my friend and I had shared during a very precious time in life……new babies, new friends, new recipes.

Recipe: serves 3 

4 garlic cloves

1 TBSP minced fresh thyme leaves

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 cups panko bread flakes (crumbs)

1 TBSP grated lemon zest (2 lemons)

2 TBSP good olive oil

2 TBSP unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup Dijon Mustard

1/3 cup dry white wine

1 (3 1/2 to 4 pound) chicken, cut in eighths

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place the garlic, thyme, 2 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of pepper into a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until the garlic is finely minced.  Add the panko, lemon zest, olive oil and butter and pulse a few times to moisten the bread flakes. Pour the mixture onto a large plate.
  3. In a shallow bowl, whisk the mustard and wine.
  4. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.  Sprinkle generously all over with salt and pepper.
  5. Dip each piece in the mustard mixture to coat on all sides, and then place skin-side only into the crumb mixture, pressing gently to make the crumbs adhere (and get the sides too).
  6. Place the chicken on a sheet pan, crumb-side up.  Press any remaining crumbs on the  chicken pieces.
  7. Bake the chicken for 40 minutes.  Then raise the heat to 400 degrees and bake for another 10 minutes or so, until the crumbs are browned and the chicken is cooked through.
  8. Serve hot or at room temperature.

NOTE:  While the chicken is in the oven, I roast some vegetables in the oven as well, so you have a quick, easy meal. Any vegetable will do, but I love to roast small, sweet peppers and asparagus (see archives).

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