Chicken Dijon is one of the dishes I’ve been making since I first started cooking over 20 years ago when I moved, on a whim, to Colorado with a high school friend. My previous forays into the culinary had yielded dubious, perhaps inedible, results, knowing then so very little (such as how to boil an egg! I still have to look that up every time). Luckily, my roomie had worked catering and knew a thing or two that I picked up along the way. Even though our post-grad economic situation forced us to clip coupons and get creative, we had a great time. I most often used my Better Homes and Gardens Basics cookbook, or (funny now in light of recent health news regarding diets and fat) the Betty Crocker Low-Fat Cookbook (both are now relegated to the dusty depths of my closet, but I just can’t seem to do away with them). We made many delicious meals during those months, (and used a lot of sun-dried tomatoes) but alas, we both landed pretty quickly back in Michigan. Chicken Dijon was the one recipe that came back with me. Later, I segued into Rachael Ray’s easier version, which seemed to satisfy my Frenchie mustard cravings for a few years.
And now this. Faced with an almost full tub of leftover Mascarpone cheese, I figured I could give my usual version a couple of tweaks and end up with something much more elegant. I added shallots and mushrooms and finished the sauce with the Mascarpone, which lent the dish a sumptuous texture and a decidedly even more Frenchie taste, without using heavy cream. Total win! Serve with roasted asparagus because, well, it’s Spring!
- 3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in half
- 1 cup (or so) cremini mushrooms
- 1 shallot
- 1 tsp. Herbes de Provence (or fresh thyme)
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
- 3 tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 3 tbsp. Mascarpone cheese
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tbsp. butter
- coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1. First, cut your chicken breasts in half, cover in plastic wrap and pound them out a little to help them cook evenly. Dry them well, sprinkle with the Herbes de Provence and the salt and pepper. Squeeze the lemon over the chicken.
2. Clean and slice your mushrooms. (Jacques Pepin says you can run them under water as long as you use them right away-no more wiping with a wet towel. Merci Jacques!) Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a saute pan over medium flame. Add the chopped shallot and sauté for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they are nicely browned. Add a little more olive oil if they seem dry. Season with a little salt and pepper and remove to a plate.
3. Add an additional 2 tablespoons olive oil and the butter to the pan. Over a medium high flame brown the chicken breasts for 4-5 minutes on each side, or until almost cooked through. It’s best to use a stainless steel pan in order to get a really nicely browned breast but non-stick will work as well. Remove the chicken from the pan.
4. Turn the flame up to high and add the chicken broth, scraping the brown bits (you may not have much if you used a non-stick pan). Turn the flame to low and whisk in the mustard. Simmer for a couple of minutes. Whisk in the Marcarpone cheese, then add the chicken (with its juices) and the mushrooms back to the pan.
5. Turn the flame to low, cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
Serve over couscous or rice with something green on the side. Et voilà.
And here is a weird and overly sunny, but necessary, aerial view of the dish.