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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Simple Roasted Chicken with Dijon Pan Sauce


This is one of my favorite meals to make if I'm eating alone.
It's just roasted chicken and a simple pan sauce, but it's seriously delicious.

The quality of the chicken makes a big difference. I buy pasture-raised birds from the farmer's market and roast them low and slow. (The chicken legs from Raghoo Farm in Montgomery, New York are the most flavorful and juicy I've ever tasted.)

Once they're perfectly browned and fall-apart tender, I transfer them to a serving plate and whip up a quick sauce using the pan juices. Pan sauces are great because they're fast and easy - this one takes only 2 minutes and 2 ingredients - and also because they leave you with a mostly clean pan, which makes washing up easy too.

Here I just roasted a leg, but you can roast a whole chicken if you like, either whole or cut up into pieces. Season your bird in advance, 24 to 48 hours ahead if possible. I used red wine vinegar for the sauce, but you could substitute white wine or another kind of vinegar. Use a good Dijon-style mustard without a lot of additives.

(You can make your own mustard by blending up mustard seeds, white wine, vinegar and sea salt, after you've set them aside for a day or two to allow the seeds to soften and soak up some of the liquid.)

Cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
1 pasture-raised chicken leg per person, pre-seasoned and at room temperature
Ground peppercorn
White wine vinegar
Dijon-style mustard (Maille or other)

Preheat the oven to 300F.  If you haven't already, take the chicken out of the fridge to come to room temperature and season it with sea salt and ground peppercorn.

Drizzle a little bit of olive oil into a cast iron pan and place the seasoned chicken inside.

Once the oven is hot, roast the chicken for about an hour (longer if you're roasting a whole chicken), until the skin is crispy and brown and the meat is fall-apart tender.

Remove the pan from the oven and place it on the stove top. Lift out the chicken, transfer it to a serving plate, and cover it to keep it warm.

Add a splash of vinegar to the meat juices and rendered fat in the pan. (If the chicken was pasture-raised, the fat is good for you.)
If you like vinegar a lot, add a tablespoon. If you like it a little, add a teaspoon. Use a whisk to scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.

Add a dollop of Dijon to the sauce and whisk until smooth. If you like mustard a lot, add a tablespoon. If you like it a little, add a teaspoon. Taste the sauce and make any necessary adjustments.

Serve the sauce with the chicken as soon as it's ready and round out the meal with a big green salad.

Reserve the carcass for soup stock.

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