Mustard Chicken with Bacon and Cream

IMG_1.JPG

This is not a recipe for the faint of heart. It’s a recipe you can only get away with in cold weather–VERY cold weather–and even then you may hear that spiky haired fitness guru from the 90s, Susan Powter, in your head screaming: “Stop the insanity!”

Susan Powter has a point: you’re about to bake chicken with cream (almost 2 cups) and bacon (1/2 a pound). The recipe, like the recipe below this, also comes from David Tanis’s “A Platter of Figs” only I substituted chicken for the originally intended protein: rabbit.

It’s not that I’m rabbit-squeamish, it’s just that I’m rabbit-stingy. Meaning: the rabbit at Key Food (yes, the Key Food across the street has rabbit from D’artagnan) cost $33. One shelf away was a 4 lb Bell & Evans chicken for $12. For 1/3rd the price, I could make the same exact recipe with an equally succulent, though slightly less elegant, protein. Since it was a weeknight, I took the road that was cheaper and, to quote Robert Frost, that made all the difference.

Actually, I’m glad I used the chicken because I’m not entirely sure this turned out. Let me explain, beat by beat.

It starts with a marinade: in a bowl, you mix together 1/4 cup strong Dijon mustard, 2 teaspoons mustard seeds crushed (optional; I had them on hand), 1 1/2 cups Creme Fraiche OR 1 1/4 cups heavy cream (I used the cream), 8 garlic cloves sliced, and 1/2 pound thick-sliced bacon or pancetta cut into 1/4 inch lardons, 4 bay leaves. You also add 2 Tbs of chopped thyme and 2 Tbs of chopped sage to the bowl. Here’s your marinade:

IMG_2.JPG

Now take your chicken, cut it into 8 pieces, pat it dry with paper towels and season aggressively with salt and pepper. Now plop into the marinade, stir it all around, and let marinade “for an hour or two or overnight in the fridge.”

IMG_3.JPG

After that, you simply bake it. Preheat the oven to 400. Place the chicken and all the marinade into a baking dish:

IMG_4.JPG

And bake for one hour, turning the pieces as they brown. I actually took the breast meat out early–I found, after cutting into it, that it was done after 45 minutes–but the legs and thighs took the full hour. Here it is, out of the oven:

IMG_5.JPG

Your first impression might make you think this was entirely scrumptious and, indeed, the chicken pieces were pretty divine–with subtle flavors of bacon, sage, and mustard permeated throughout. But, look carefully, and you’ll notice the sauce–which David Tanis has you “spoon over each serving”–is entirely separated. A pale, yellow liquid interrupted with flecks of clotted white. Not very pretty or appetizing.

So, we ended up with very tasty chicken but no sauce. I can’t imagine this was because I substituted chicken for rabbit, but maybe it had something to do with substituting cream for cream fraiche?

Still, when you bake chicken with bacon, mustard and cream, how can you complain? You really can’t. As Tanis suggests, I served the finished dish with the roasted parsnips from the previous post:

IMG_91519.JPG

A fatty dish like this in winter is like a down comforter for your soul. Tell the Susan Powter in your head to stop her own insanity and treat yourself before it warms up again.

You may also like

39 comments

  1. It seems like the chicken is the culprit. It has a lot more fat than rabbit, especially since you left some skin on. The “separated” sauce you see is probably melted fat from the chicken. Just a guess, I’m not a food scientist or a chef, but I think you should splurge and try it with rabbit and get a nice culinary experience to boot. You could probably get $1 from 21 of your most loyal readers to cover the difference – I’d contribute.

  2. I agree- it must be the chicken, due to its extra fat/skin. When you fabricate a rabbit, there is very little fat, and no skin to speak of. Perhaps next time you want to piss off the evil Susan Powter on your shoulder, try removing the skin and go about the recipe as is? Regardless, your dish looks divine!

  3. I agree- it must be the chicken, due to its extra fat/skin. When you fabricate a rabbit, there is very little fat, and no skin to speak of. Perhaps next time you want to piss off the evil Susan Powter on your shoulder, try removing the skin and go about the recipe as is? Regardless, your dish looks divine!

  4. What does Susan Powter know anyway? She was all about losing weight by cutting fat, which we now know is a bad idea. It’s not about how much fat you consume; it’s about what KINDS of fat you consume! The native Inuit eat a diet that’s 80% fat, and they’re a healthy, lean people. We need to eat animal fats from healthy grass-fed/pastured/wild animals and less of the toxic veggies oils that are so new to the human diets.

    The problem with the Susan Powters of the world is that they CAN lose weight by cutting way back on fat, but they usually make up for their insatiable hunger by eating carbs. Then they have to exercise endlessly to lose weight (or even just maintain where they’re at).

    If you’re fuzzy about why I think this, I recommend checking out Eat Fat, Lose Fat from your library or looking into the paleolithic/primal diets. Those folks have all the info and scientific research you need to feel good about eating healthy animal fats.

    All that said, this meal looks divine!

  5. Regardless, it looks awesome. The cookbook looks great too. Mr. Tanis, though, has come up with nothing new…he used the same process of making menus based on the weather from Edna Lewis’s famed cookbook: A Taste of Country Cooking.

    She started the process of writing out menus using seasonal ingredients.

    As for the sauce on your chicken…it looks fine to me…I would have put some noodles under it and called it a day.

  6. Regardless, it looks awesome. The cookbook looks great too. Mr. Tanis, though, has come up with nothing new…he used the same process of making menus based on the weather from Edna Lewis’s famed cookbook: A Taste of Country Cooking.

    She started the process of writing out menus using seasonal ingredients.

    As for the sauce on your chicken…it looks fine to me…I would have put some noodles under it and called it a day.

  7. actually, i was sure you were going to say that it was way too salty, but what do i know.

    if you make this again, i suggest using creme fraiche, which is known for not separating when it’s subjected to heat.

  8. Marcella Hazan has a DIVINE recipe for a pork roast cooked in milk. The milk separates in the oven, much like the cream in your recipe. It makes a lovely little sauce anyway, and this is the way it is intended to be. Anyhoo, it looks SCRUMPTIOUS!!

  9. Makes me think of the recipe for buttermilk chicken where you soak the chicken in buttermmilk overnight, then roll in crumbs & deep fry… perhaps you could try using buttermilk as an alternative to creme fraiche?

  10. I think the culprit was the cream. I have heard that creme fraiche is more heat stable than regular cream.

    What an expensive rabbit–here in Spain they cost about 8 euros in the supermarket.

  11. Okay the culprit is definitely not the chicken that made your sauce break. It was definitely the cream or something else but not the meat. DUH

  12. Sometimes it’s worth it to splurge on cream and bacon meals.

    I made the braised beef from his cookbook and it was amazing!

  13. I can’t wait to try this. I just recently tried the roast chicken (with the buttload of salt, pepper, and some additional fennel and cayenne), and it was incredible. It sham-wowed the girlfriend + sister and her boyfriend. Would this work as a marinade keeping the chicken whole, or is it separated to get more contact with the chicken? Either way, I’m putting some potatoes, pearl onions, and sweet potatoes in the pan with this one.

  14. I think it was the cream, too. I have several recipes noting that cream or sour cream are not substitutes for creme fraiche in baking because they will separate or curdle under heat. I want to give this a try as it has some of my favorite flavor combinations- despite that out here in the hinterlands of Illinois creme fraiche costs darn near as much as that rabbit!

  15. OK obviously I need to go buy this cookbook. I seem to be the only one who doesn’t own it. As my mother would say, that looks like a heart attack on a plate. As I would say, yum.

  16. OK obviously I need to go buy this cookbook. I seem to be the only one who doesn’t own it. As my mother would say, that looks like a heart attack on a plate. As I would say, yum.

  17. I used to beg my mother to make mustard chicken when I was growing up! I don’t know what recipe she used but the sauce was always thick and creamy and mustardy – not separated. I do think she used skinless chicken though. And I doubt she used creme fraiche, as we were deep in ‘Mercan suburbia in the 70’s. She is German though, so I’m pretty sure she used her German cookbook for the recipe. I’ll ask her for the recipe if you like.

  18. I used to beg my mother to make mustard chicken when I was growing up! I don’t know what recipe she used but the sauce was always thick and creamy and mustardy – not separated. I do think she used skinless chicken though. And I doubt she used creme fraiche, as we were deep in ‘Mercan suburbia in the 70’s. She is German though, so I’m pretty sure she used her German cookbook for the recipe. I’ll ask her for the recipe if you like.

  19. Can you use plain yogurt instead of cream in this recipe? Tandoori chicken is made on a yogurt-based marinade, I believe…

  20. Creme fraiche would be less likely to break, but next time just power homogenize it with a blender or stick blender… should look and taste just fine.

  21. It’s not the chicken it’s the sauce. I would have a hard time reusing my marinade as a sauce. Just could not taste the same after raw chicken had added to the flavor of the sauce. I would marinade the chicken, throw out the sauce, and use a new one to to cook with. It would make all the difference in the world.

    Sauce was said four times.

  22. maybe this is a stupid question, but i am a true amateur… do you cook the bacon before using it for the marinade?

  23. For the most delicious gravy, remove the chicken pieces from the dish and spatulate — I mean use a spatula to remove EVERYTHING else into your blender and whizzzz….presto chango, DELICIOUS gravy!

  24. To make delicious gravy: Remove the cooked chicken pieces. Put everything else into blender and whizzzz….voila~! Excellent gravy!

  25. To get a great gravy, remove the cooked chicken pieces from the dish and scrape EVERYTHING else into the blender and whizzz. DELICIOUS GRAVY!

  26. I’m going to attempt this with creme fraiche and boneless skinless chicken breasts. I’ll report back!

  27. It looks good ! too bad for the sauce.

    And I’m wondering… I don’t know, what’s the difference between cream and Creme fraiche?

  28. Hi Adam,

    I got excited when I saw your recipe for mustard chicken, thinking that maybe you had discovered my ALL TIME FAVORITE comfort food recipe, which is James Beard’s recipe for Mustard Chicken. It doesn’t require marinating, and there are a few vegetables involved. :) I found a copy of the recipe on a random blog, and would highly suggest giving it a try once your arteries have recovered!

    http://www.schlaver.com/cookbook/entrees/mustard.html

    I promise, there will be plenty of sauce!

    Hannah

  29. The cream clotted due to the acid in the mustard. Mustard has vinegar in it to stop the “heat”. Use ground mustard, not prepared mustard and it will be great.

  30. The cream clotted due to the acid in the mustard. Mustard has vinegar in it to stop the “heat”. Use ground mustard, not prepared mustard and it will be great.

  31. I totally F*(@)# this recipe up. BIG TIME!! yup, leave it to me! It looked pretty pathetic compared to yours.