“Stews are your best ally for stress-free dinner parties,” says Clotilde Dusoulier, of her Mustard Chicken Stew in her Chocolate & Zucchini cookbook, and I couldn’t agree more. They cook happily away while you enjoy the company of your guests, and avoid the stress of food that has to be perfectly timed. This chicken stew reminded us of a hunter’s chicken, a chicken cacciatore in its ease of preparation, ingredients, and heartiness. Clotilde’s version has a decidedly French twist, with the seasoning of whole seed Dijon mustard, a bounty of red onion, and roasted garlic as a condiment, a combination that comes together perfectly.
Chicken Stew with Onions, Tomatoes, and Dijon Recipe
- 1 whole head garlic
- Olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- One 3-4 pound whole chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces (2 breasts, wings, thighs, legs)
- 6 medium red onions (about 2 pounds)
- One 28 to 32 ounce can good quality whole peeled tomatoes, drained
- 1 Tbsp fresh thyme or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- A pinch of chile powder
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 3 Tbsp old-fashioned whole seed Dijon mustard (or 1/4 cup regular Dijon mustard)
1 Preheat oven to 400°F.
2 Remove the papery outer layers of the garlic bulb, leaving intact the skins of the individual cloves. Cut 1/4 to a 1/2 inch off the tops of cloves, exposing the individual garlic cloves. Place the head of garlic on a piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle some olive oil over the garlic, and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Wrap the head of garlic with the aluminum foil and place in the oven. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the flesh of the cloves are light brown and feel quite soft when pressed. Set aside to cool. (See how to roast garlic.)
3 While the garlic is roasting, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot (with lid) or Dutch oven, on medium high heat. Rinse the chicken pieces in cold water then pat dry with paper towels. Season liberally with salt and pepper.
Brown the chicken pieces, starting them skin-side down, cooking them a few minutes on each side, working in batches so that you don't crowd the pan.
4 While the chicken is browning, peel and quarter the onions. Remove chicken from pan when nicely golden with tongs or a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate. Discard any fat and oil beyond about 1 Tbsp left in the pan. Put the onions in the pot and cook them until softened, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.
5 Add the tomatoes to the pot, the thyme, bay leaves, and ground chile powder. Put the chicken pieces on top of the tomatoes. Pour in the wine and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook on medium-low heat for 40 minutes, stirring from time to time so that the vegetables don't stick.
6 After the garlic has cooled enough to handle, squeeze out the roasted garlic from the cloves into a small bowl and crush with a fork. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to serve with the chicken stew.
7 When the chicken has cooked, add the mustard to the pot and stir to blend. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook uncovered for 10 more minutes, or until the sauce is thick enough to cling to the meat. Remove bay leaves. Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve stew over rice or pasta, with the garlic paste on the side.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6.