This tangy, zesty, creamy dish comes together in a little less than an hour. It is simple enough to make on a weeknight (with a little hustle) and elegant enough for a dinner party. Serve with homemade Caesar Salad, because the flavor profiles of the classic Caesar are the perfect compliment to Chicken Dijonnaise.
Time: 45-60 minutes
Cost: About $4 per plate
Serves: 4- 6
For the Chicken Dijonnaise:
- 4-6 chicken breasts (1 per person), butterflied but not sliced through
- 3 TBSP flour
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 3 TBSP ground dried Dijon mustard (available in the spices section of most supermarkets)
- Olive oil (and clarified butter, optional)
- 1 shallot, minced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 8oz brown mushrooms (Baby Bellas or Crimini would work best), sliced
- 1/3 cup brandy, plus 1 TSP
- 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup prepared coarse-ground or stone-ground Dijon Mustard
- Cook’s Note: both Safeway and Grey Poupon make this (I believe Grey Poupon calls theirs ‘Country Mustard’ but whatever); any brand will do, and hell, in a pinch, any quality prepared mustard will do as long as you don’t use any of that horrible yellow crap such as French’s (if you use French’s or any other yellow mustard, you are dead to me. Moving on…)
Optional Step: Brine your chicken breasts by soaking them in a solution of 1/4 cup kosher salt dissolved in 4 cups luke-warm water. Refrigerate in the brine for as little as 30 minutes or as long as 2 hours. This will lead to a juicer end product.
In a small bowl, mix flour, dried mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine well. (Omit salt if you brined ahead of time).
Pat butterflied chicken breasts dry and place in a large mixing or tossing bowl, making sure that they are fully opened to maximize surface area. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and toss to coat. Pour seasoned flour mixture over chicken and toss again until chicken is well coated on all sides.
Heat 2 TBSP olive oil (or 1 TBSP clarified butter and 1 TBSP olive oil) large sauté pan over medium-high heat until shimmering but not quite smoking (about 375°F). Add chicken to oil, presentation side down, and cook without moving, 3-5 minutes, until well browned. Flip chicken over and continue to cook until chicken is cooked through 80-90% (it will finish in the sauce).
Cook’s Note: Don’t overcrowd the pan. Every time you add a chicken breast it reduces the heat in the pan which means that less browning will occur. I find that about 3-4 chicken breasts is a good number in my 12-inch sauté pan. Work in batches if you have to.
Remove chicken from pan and reserve on a plate; cover to keep warm.
In the same pan, add shallots and sauté until a bit translucent, 1-2 minutes. Add garlic and sauté with shallots until very fragrant, 1-2 more minutes. Add mushrooms and continue to sauté until liquid is absorbed into mushrooms and mushrooms begin to lightly caramelize. Carefully pour in brandy and ignite by slowly moving a lit grill lighter over the pan. You will get flames; they will be large – so make sure loose clothing, hair, and other flammables are well out of the way. Keep a lid nearby in case things get out of control (which they probably won’t).
Cook’s Note: It helps to have the brandy measured out in a container such as a measuring cup or glass. You should be holding the container of brandy in your non-dominant hand and be holding the grill lighter in your dominant hand. Never pour alcohol into a hot pan directly from the bottle, unless you want to risk blowing the bottle up in your hands. Anyway, holding the grill lighter in your dominant hand, light it. Keeping it lit, use your other hand to pour the brandy into the pan. Wait about 2 seconds for the alcohol to begin to vaporize and slowly move the lit lighter to about 2 inches above the pan to ignite the alcohol – don’t stick the lighter in the pan or it will go out – remember: You’re igniting the vapors not what’s in the pan. If you don’t get flames or everything fizzles out, that’s okay. Just add the chicken stock and cook everything down for 3 or so minutes until the raw alcohol has cooked off. See How to Flambé for more information.
Add the chicken stock and cream and stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer to reduce sauce, 5-10 minutes. Once the sauce has thickened a bit, stir in 1/4 cup of coarse-ground prepared mustard. Add chicken and any juices on the plate back into sauce and flip a few times to coat. Off the heat and cover to allow chicken to finish cooking in the sauce, 7-10 minutes. (Verify that the internal temperature of the chicken is at least 155°F using an instant-read thermometer before serving. If after 15 minutes or so the chicken still isn’t up to temp, slowly warm chicken in sauce over a bare simmer until cooked through.)
Just before serving, having removed the chicken from the pot to serving plates, stir in final 1 TSP of brandy to brighten the sauce. Spoon sauce over chicken and serve with a crusty french baguette and Caesar Salad.