My fellow mustard lovers, this one's for you.
This week's recipe is Chicken Dijon, a stew with crispy, browned chicken enveloped in a rich sauce of cream, coarse mustard and herbs. Stews have become our go-to dinner around here, and this one is our current favorite.
We fell hard for stews because few other dinners are so forgiving and delicious. Anyone can make a stew, and they are perfect for the fickle weather these days. You know, the 80-degree afternoon followed by a night in the 50s.
So what's the difference between stew and soup? Lynne Rossetto Kasper of The Splendid Table podcast said it simply: A stew requires a fork. A soup calls for a spoon.
This recipe comes from the hardest-working Food & Wine issue we own. Melissa Clark, a cookbook author who also writes a cooking column for the New York Times, shares a half-dozen recipes in a feature on French weeknight stews. Clark led us to a fantastic way to make ratatouille, a quick version topped with goat cheese. There was a cozy stew of lentils with kielbasa, and then this chicken stew, which we've made many times since.
Truly a weeknight stew, this chicken comes together in less than an hour. Using only drumsticks makes the cooking time for the chicken straightforward and easy.
Sour cream, tarragon, coriander, and a generous amount of coarse ground mustard make the sauce pretty irresistible. I am not the biggest fan of foods with an anise or licorice flavor, but the tarragon is mellow and wonderful in this stew.
Each serving is a couple of drumsticks in a pool of sauce. Crusty bread, not rice, is just the thing to make the best use of the sauce. Sometimes I serve myself an extra drumstick just so I can have a bit more sauce.
This is a humble-looking dish that tastes considerably better than it looks. It's such a delicious treat to make yourself on a cool Wednesday night or to share with someone you love. Trust me.
Ileana Morales is a freelance writer who cooks in a small apartment kitchen in Tampa with her boyfriend, Danny Valentine, an education reporter for the Tampa Bay Times. For more of their kitchen adventures, visit Ileana's blog, alittlesaffron.com. She can be contacted at email@example.com.