Session 9 – Quick Chicken Dijonnaise

Happy Mother’s Day! If you are honoring the memory of a mother today, my heart goes out to you and your family. It’s so very hard losing a parent, but hopefully you can find comfort in remembering them on a day like today with other family members. Below are some pictures of my mom when I was little. The left photo is Aunt Maggs and her mom, Granny Meier, on either side of my mom who is holding me (in a super cute bib). The left is my mom and I going for a dip in the Poconos. I am so grateful that my dad was a shutterbug and took so many pictures of the family growing up.

This morning I went out to lunch with my mom’s parents and sister, and being around her relatives (and mine) made me feel like I was honoring my mom’s memory in a very real way. I will never be able to cast off these feelings of missing her, but my 30th birthday being right around the corner adds a level of complexity to this mother’s day in particular. It’s a big milestone birthday, and it is heartbreaking not to be able to spend it with her. I am thankful to be close with my family and have some amazing and wonderful friends to help me celebrate the big day (in New Orleans!).

Coincidentally, I chose a completely handwritten recipe for this cooking session – “Quick Chicken Dijonnaise”. I can pick out my mom’s handwriting out of a thousand samples; I saw it’s distinctive lettering all my life. Most special to me were the notes she left me to find tucked in my luggage on vacations without her or at sleepover camp, or the “boxes of love” she would send me while at college to get me through finals or other minor holidays away from home. One of the great parts of this project is to see her writing again on some of the recipe cards.

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Chicken Dijonnaise, as written, calls for chicken cutlets and a quick stovetop prep. I opted to use a flat of chicken thighs I already had in the freezer and turned the sauce into a marinade! After thinly slicing the shallots and dicing tarragon, I cooked up the sauce on the stovetop and it’s intoxicating aroma filled the kitchen. Off to a good start!

I then trimmed the excess fat off of the chicken thighs and threw them into a gallon ziplock bag with the cooled sauce. After 30 minutes in the fridge, they went into the oven and came out tender and juicy after an hour of baking. I served the chicken with a side of roasted zucchini, but this would also be delicious with rice, potatoes, or any vegetable side.

The Results

This recipe is fantastic. The shallots and tarragon really add a great depth of flavor with a hint of sweetness that is further brought out by the white wine. This would absolutely work well as the original recipe intended with chicken cutlets on the stove, but was equally successful as a quick marinade. A+!

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(…apologies for the non-plated shot…)

The Recipes

Chicken Dijonnaise

Ingredients – serves 4-5

1 package chicken breast cutlets or boneless thighs
1 TBSP butter
2 large shallots, sliced (about 1/2 C)
1/2 tsp dried tarragon (or a few sprigs of fresh tarragon, diced)
1/4 C chicken broth
1/4 C white wine
1 TBSP dijon mustard
salt & pepper

Directions

If using cutlets:
Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium high heat and brown chicken, two minutes on each side. Remove chicken from the skillet and set aside. Add shallots and tarragon to the pan, stirring frequently and cooking for about one minute. Stir in broth, wine, and mustard until blended and bring to a boil. Return chicken to skillet and once boiling, reduce to low, cover, and simmer until chicken is cooked through; about 5-6 minutes. Serve with sauce over the chicken.

If using thighs:
Preheat oven to 400º. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium high heat. Add shallots and tarragon to the saucepan, stirring frequently and cooking for about one minute. Stir in broth, wine, and mustard until blended and bring to a boil for a full minute to cook off the alcohol. Turn off the burner and remove the sauce from heat. Let sit until sauce is room temperature (or place entire pan into fridge for ten minutes or so if you have the room!). While the sauce is cooling, trim the excess fat off of the chicken thighs and place in a gallon ziplock bag. Add cooled sauce, seal tightly, and toss to coat. Let sit to marinade in the fridge for at least half an hour, or overnight. Dump contents of ziplock bag into a glass baking dish, making sure to get out all of the shallots and as much of the sauce as possible. Bake at 400º for 55 minutes, cover with foil if the top of the chicken is getting too brown or dried out. Serve with sauce over the chicken.

PROTIP: To learn more about cooking with wine and the basic accepted standards of how/if alcohol burns off while cooking, check out this article. The small amount of wine used in this recipe does evaporate significantly at a rolling boil for a minute, but not all – this is important to note for anyone with alcohol sensitivities (religious or other!)

VEGAN PROTIP: You can substitute vegan butter and veggie broth for the sauce and find a way to use it – it would probably do well tossed in with rice and some veggies/tofu!

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