Poulet à la Moutarde, better known in this country as Chicken Dijon, has been a menu staple in our home for as long as I’ve been cooking. It’s a simple bistro style dish staring sharp, tangy Dijon mustard.
There is always a bottle of Dijon mustard in our refrigerator. It’s one of the things I never let myself run out of, just as in the case of mayonnaise, anchovies, capers, and other “can’t live without” condiments.
Our favorite brand of Dijon mustard is Maille, the one with the black label and lid. They have been making Dijon mustard for 260 years. Maille mustard is so famous in France that they have two boutiques if you can believe it – one in Paris and one in the city of Dijon. Maille also make flavored mustards, but our favorite is the traditional Originale. You would not want to use one of the flavored mustards in this dish. But the supermarket brand Grey Poupon, or “poo-poo” mustard as Meakin called it when he was a boy, will more than suffice if you can’t get your hands on the Maille brand.
This is an easy French dish which requires little in the way of skills compared to some of the older recipes for Chicken Dijon. I can remember having to temper the two eggs that went into the dish. As a young cook, my egg tempering skills weren’t all that great. That recipe came from The Art of French Cooking by Fernande Garvin, a long out of print little paperback originally published in 1958. Sometimes used copies can be picked up for a song at Amazon. My 1965 edition is stained and the yellowed pages are falling apart from use, but I wouldn’t part with it for anything. There are too many good memories in that book.
James Beard always served roasted chicken on a bed of watercress as I’ve done with this chicken and there’s a reason why he did that. Roasted chicken is rich and the crispy tang of watercress is the perfect foil for that richness. The sauce acts like a dressing if you will with the watercress and smoothes the dish. Oven roasted crispy potatoes would make a delicious side to the watercress. I added the red tomatoes for color.
I present to you the very easy French dish ~ Poulet à la Moutarde
Chicken Dijon ~ Poulet à la Moutarde
From Bon Appétit – serves 4
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, about 1 1/2 pounds
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small leeks, white and pale-green parts only, rinsed & thinly sliced, ½ cup
½ cup minced onion, approximately 1 small onion
4 small garlic cloves, minced
2 cups low-salt, low fat chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine
½ cup good Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme, plus thyme leaves for garnish
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Watercress for serving
Season chicken breasts with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Place chicken in skillet and cook until brown on both sides, 12-15 minutes total. Transfer to a plate, tent with foil to keep warm, and set aside.
Place leeks and onion in same skillet and sauté until tender, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in broth, wine, Dijon mustard, and minced thyme and bring to a simmer. Return chicken to skillet. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.
Transfer chicken to plates and tent with foil to keep chicken warm. Bring liquid in skillet to a boil; cook until sauce is thickened and glossy, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. Taste and season if necessary with more salt and pepper. Place watercress alongside the chicken, spoon sauce over the chicken, and garnish with fresh thyme leaves.