A chicken dish for all seasons
Some recipes deserve to become standards; dishes you find yourself cooking and serving again and again, no matter the time of year or the occasion.
To achieve that kind of status takes a rare combination of characteristics. The ingredients have to be easy to find. The cooking process has to be fairly uncomplicated. And the finished dish has to be so out-of-the-ordinary delicious that you'd be happy to serve it to special guests and family members alike.
You probably have such recipes in your own repertoire already. But anyone who loves good food will always be ready to welcome another. That's why I'm happy to share a classic I've been serving to guests regularly in my restaurants for more than 30 years: pan-roasted chicken with garlic and herbs, two-mustards sauce and caramelized cipollini onions.
I have discussed this dish before, but, like all standards, it definitely deserves a revival. This time with some key changes that dramatically enhance its ease of preparation, versatility, flavor and appearance to make it a new recipe all its own.
Chief among those changes is that, instead of calling for a whole chicken you have to butterfly at home, it starts with chicken pieces, which means you have to do far less knife work for both prepping and serving. Be sure to buy an assortment of legs, thighs and breasts if some of the people you'll be serving like dark meat and others white meat.
Next comes the sauce itself. In my restaurants, I usually begin by deglazing the pan with sweet and fruity port wine. But I know that not all home cooks keep a bottle of port in their kitchens. So, instead, you have the option here of using any red wine you like that has enough fruitiness and body to complement the warm spiciness of the mustards in the sauce. If you use red wine, it's a good idea to drink the same varietal with the finished dish.
Finally, I've added a new garnish that elevates the results above all previous versions: caramelized cipollini onions. I know that you might wonder how these bite-sized, slightly flattened, sweet Italian onions count as an everyday item; but you'd actually be surprised to see how many well-stocked produce sections sell them today year round. And you can also substitute any other small varieties you might find, or use medium-sized shallots.
If you've made and enjoyed this recipe before, I hope you'll find this new version even better. If you're coming to it for the first time, you can look forward many delicious homemade chicken dinners ahead.
PAN-ROASTED CHICKEN WITH GARLIC AND HERBS, TWO-MUSTARD SAUCE, AND CARAMELIZED CIPOLLINI ONIONS
Serves 4 to 6