Date Night Chicken
March 27, 2014
A lot has happened since the last time I posted a recipe on Mrs. Smith Cooks! I published a book, learned how to make the perfect play-doh pancake (Clayton and Sam say they are delicious!) and started a Faith and Family Newsletter. In fact, I’ve had so much going on that I said to Elias a couple of weeks ago, “I think I’m going to shut Mrs. Smith Cooks Down.” “Yo no estoy de acuerdo” Elias said, which means “I don’t agree.” We talked about it and he had some good points. The whole point of Mrs. Smith Cooks is to document my own cooking adventures. I actually use it all the time to look up my own favorite recipes. I decided that I really do still enjoy cooking and trying out new things, but the hardest part of the blog – styling the food and setting it up and taking nice-ish pictures of it in the sunshine — is something that I just don’t have time for anymore. So, for the 8.2 readers of Mrs. Smith Cooks out there, still, you can expect to continue to see my favorite recipes from time to time, but the pictures will be more iPhone-y / Instagramtastic type shots. I’m ok with that if you are.
Ok, on to the cooking. Recently Elias and I have been instituting “Stay at home date-nights” that involve eating a real “fancy” homecooked meal in peace and drinking wine while the children sleep. Luxurious, I tell you, luxurious. It’s a huge change from the usual “scarf down some enchiladas in between picking up enchilada bits off the floor and wrestling toddlers into feety pajamas.” (as much as we LOVE wrestling the toddlers into feety pajamas and scraping enchilada bits off the floor…) One of the challenges of these awesome stay at home date night meals is finding a dish that feels fancy and wonderful enough for date night but also doesn’t involve a lot of A. Dishes to wash B. Fussing C. Time
When I first saw this dish in the New York Times, I was positive it would work and that we’d love it for all of the reasons just described. The dish is about 30 minutes of hands-on time and another 45ish of letting it simmer and cook on the stove. So great. So French. So delicious. The sauce, you guys. The sauce. We ate this with just brown rice (ok, not JUST brown rice, there was also wine to drink and cake for dessert — can I get an amen?) but there were no vegetables, (aside from the tomatoes in this dish) no fancy potatoes, no delectable side dishes. We didn’t need them. We didn’t care. This dish speaks for itself. It’s the perfect dish for company or for date night. It’s exactly the reason I don’t want to shut Mrs. Smith Cooks down — I would have never dared to make something like this back when I started this blog. I’m so enjoying this adventure.
The only changes I made to this dish are the following:
1. I used six thighs, not eight, for two reasons. 1. I was not about to brown these thighs “in batches” as the recipe suggests. Oh no. When there are toddlers running amuck there will be one batch and one batch only. (And as the Food Network taught me, it’s important not to overcrowd the pan when browning to get a nice sear.) 2. I was pretty sure we’d want a higher sauce to chicken recipe and I was right. Always more sauce. Always more sauce!!
2. I didn’t use cherry tomatoes, I cut these Campari tomatoes into fourths. They looked great at the store, and they were on sale. It was the right choice, but the cherry tomatoes do make for a nicer presentation (See the NYT article’s photo… yum!)
3. Just before adding the tomatoes, I turned the flame way WAY down, to almost non existent and let the chicken go for an extra 15 minutes or so. This wasn’t for any other reason than I wasn’t ready to serve it yet and I needed to keep it warm. I added the cherry tomatoes last minute and it was just fine.
6-8 Bone-in chicken thighs with skin on
2 T flour
1 T each, salt and pepper
2 T Butter
2 T Dijon Mustard
2 C Wine
2 Sprigs Tarragon (plus a little more, chopped, for garnish)
10-12 Medium shallots, peeled
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (see note above)
1. Rinse chicken thighs and pat very dry with paper towels.
2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and flour
3. Melt butter on medium-high heat in a thick, deep frying pan and brown the chicken well on all sides (don’t crowd the pan!)
3. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside
4. Add shallots to the pot with the chicken fat and butter and brown them until they’re lightly caramelized (about 10 minutes)
5. Add the wine to the pot to deglaze (be careful it spatters a little bit) and whisk in tarragon and mustard. Reduce the heat to low and take a moment to revel in the reality that you are as amazing as a French chef.
6. Cover and simmer on low (medium low in my opinion/experience… if your stove has numbers I think it’s about a 3 you’re going for here) for 30-40 minutes. I did the longer end of this because I’m paranoid about raw chicken (gross!)
7. Remove the lid and simmer for another 20-30 minutes on low (to let the sauce thicken)
8. Stir in tomatoes at the last second. Stir to combine.
9. Plate the chicken: spoon sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with a little extra tarragon. Impress the heck out of your handsome husband/wife/girlfriend/SELF.