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Crispy Mustard-Roasted Chicken

The Challenge:


Crispy Mustard-Roasted Chicken. You can find the recipe here and on page 117 of Foolproof.

Lea’s Take:


Well, I, once again, had to turn to our trusty friend, Google, to figure out how to cut a whole chicken into 8 pieces. [Mary: The fact that you cut up a whole chicken is super impressive!] {Lea: Right? I figured, if I'm going to do this, I'm going all in.] Why 8 pieces, you ask, when this recipe only serves 3 people? Yeah, no idea. I should also add here that, in my house, we only eat chicken breast (I can hear the rest of my family gasp! The horror!). I like white meat. Anything else and it just looks raw and chewy. Plus, I’m sure you’ve all guessed by now, I don’t really care about that thing called flavor – I mean, I use garlic out of a jar, for goodness’ sake! [Mary: SMH]

Mary will be happy to know that I heeded her advice and bought fresh garlic. I also bought a bag of onions, instead of the one-offs I typically buy. The garlic does leave me with a bunch of burning questions, such as:

  • How long does garlic last? [Mary: A good, long while.]

  • How much do you peel to get to the clove? Do you peel it at all? [Mary: Wow, we really have a long way to go in this cooking lesson process.]

  • Do you need to refrigerate it once you crack it open and take the one clove you need for your recipe? [Mary: Maybe you haven’t seen the basket of garlic on my counter?]

  • How do you know it’s gone bad? [Mary: Bad? It doesn’t, like, expire, but it’s not fresh when it shrivels and turns brown.]

[Mary: Another tip for you…buy heads of garlic that feel heavy. If they feel light, they’re older.]

Because, dear readers, one of the main reasons I hate to cook so much is that I am terrified of poisoning anyone who eats my food. I guess I don’t know enough about food spoilage to know when things are bad – you know, other than the rotting or whatever. I typically don’t eat leftovers after 2 days (although I won’t throw it out until it’s been in there a week – I don’t intentionally waste food!) [Mary: Ridiculous. Unless it's fish. Don't even bother keeping that.], raw meat needs to be cooked within a day or two of me buying it, [Mary: Here's what she's not telling you...it may have a sell-by date 5 days past the day she buys it, but she won't use it if it's been longer than 2 days since she purchased it. What does she think the stores do?], [Lea: Wait. You're telling me you'll keep raw meat in your fridge a week?] and I’ve been known to replace a dairy product just because I bought a new one, not because it was necessary. I must be a millionaire to unintentionally waste the food I do.

As an aside, if I were a millionaire, the first thing I’d do is hire a professional cook/chef so I never EVER have to think about this stuff again and can just enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labor. Meanwhile, I’m sure my sister would love to be that professional cook/chef – to that, I say, “You’re hired!”

We were talking about a recipe here, weren’t we?

Once I figured out how to cut the chicken – to save you time, you cut the wings (pieces 1&2) off first, then the thighs (3&4) right up against the breast; next, cut the thigh again at the ball joint where the thigh and drumstick meet (5&6) (and, ball joint - gross); and finally, the breast in 2 (7&8), so you’ll have:

  • 2 breast halves

  • 2 thighs

  • 2 drumsticks

  • 2 wings

(pretty gross, but not bad for my first time, right?)


I’ll just tell you that raw chicken might very well be my kryptonite. I once watched my brother-in-law, who has worked in restaurants his whole life and isn’t afraid of food AT ALL, prepare chicken in my kitchen. It was all-at-once fascinating and horrifying. Like, I am soooo glad I don’t work in restaurants that I frequent because I might never eat again, but I have to admit, it was a great meal. And we didn’t die. [Mary: Bonus!]

Anyway, for me, it took about 20 minutes to get my 8 pieces and was just about the worst thing I’ve ever done in my kitchen. I’m not even sure if these pictures do the slaughter justice. I mean, it was like hacking away at a little person! I thought about making it dance, but decided to be respectful. [Mary: To the chicken or to little people?] It’s a damn good thing this recipe only called for a half cup of white wine because I drank the rest of the bottle to deal with my trauma.

The recipe from then on seems pretty simple: mix the dry ingredients in the food processor – look at me, using this thing AGAIN! [Mary: See? Workhorse!] – then the wet ingredients (with the breadcrumbs). From there, it’s like making one of my 5 go-to recipes: put the chicken in like an egg wash (this time, instead of egg, it’s mustard and wine), then in the crumb mixture (I zested lemon for the very first time!), then bake.


(look at that lemon zest!)


And voilà! 50 minutes later, you get golden deliciousness. I am proud to say my chicken pieces are shaped like pieces I’ve seen in a bucket of KFC, so I feel like I did an OK job with my cutting. And it smelled heavenly in my house while it cooked. To me, that’s 4 stars right there.

I wasn't smart enough to take a final picture, but doesn't it look pretty in the oven?

Mary’s Take:

I, like Lea, had to purchase a whole chicken for this recipe. Pre-COVID, if I was feeling lazy, I could find a cut-up chicken at our local grocery store, or, barring that, could take the whole bird over to the butcher counter, bat my eyelash extensions (also Pre-COVID…now, sadly, they’re just regular lashes), and ask super nicely if they’d cut it up for me. [Lea: They do that? Good to know for next time.] Not anymore.

I made my husband take pics of the cutting process (to help Lea in the future), but look at her cutting up her chicken all on her own! I can’t tell you how proud that made me, no matter how gross she found it. I always think a chicken looks like my dog when she’s sleeping on her back.

I mean, look at that sweet little body! She has no shame. Neither does a chicken. [Lea: Heeeeee.]

Here’s how my cut chicken turned out. One thigh is much bigger than the other one…not sure how I did that.

I can’t grow vegetables, but I love to keep fresh herbs in pots on the deck. One of the ones I have had for a few years is lemon thyme. Since we use so much lemon in our house, the lemon thyme really goes well in the meals I make. Does anyone else hate to strip the little leaves from the little stems like I do? They stick to my fingers, the little stems break, and then the even littler stems are harder to hold to strip. I have one of these herb stripping gadgets to help with that, but that’s one more thing to wash. Anyone want it? {Lea: I might! I was wondering how you are supposed to cut up thyme.] (I also have a strawberry huller that came with it taking up space. You can have that too.)

This mustard is THE BEST. It’s a spicy little number from France and we bring home several $1.25 bottles of it when we go. (Ah, travel, how I miss you!) Makes a nice (inexpensive) little travel gift when you can find it in the pretty glass jar from the French grocery store.

To help with cleanup, I placed a sheet of parchment on my baking sheet before I put the breaded chicken pieces on it. I love parchment sheets. I order them from Amazon; they’re precut and come in a flat package that allows you to pull out a sheet at a time and there’s no curling. Genius! I just ran out of the pack I had, so I had to purchase more. Now, these are meant to fit a quarter sheet pan, and the last couple of packs I’ve had fit perfectly. This new pack just doesn’t. It’s short on the ends and wide on the sides.

But it still worked to make cleanup easier, so no real complaints here!

The Results:

Lea:

My kids, the weirdos, just don’t like chicken. But, they promised me they’d eat whatever I made, even if it was just one bite.

The husband: This was outstanding.

Me: I think it needs more salt.

Mr. Good Eater: Where was the lemon? (Note: to get him to eat it, I told him it was lemon chicken. If I had said mustard chicken, NO ONE would have come to the table.)

Mr. Picky Pants [shrugging]: Eh. It was pretty good. Not your best, but not your worst.

That was high praise for Mr. Picky Pants, so I will be making this meal again. My husband suggested we just do breasts next time. Heh. Anyway, I paired it with rice (because we are a boring family) and broccoli, and now I am finished with fancy cooking for the week – woo!

Mary:

As I was reading this recipe, I wasn’t sure what Lea and her family were going to think…garlic AND mustard? Yeah, no. [Lea: Seriously. I was thinking the same thing. This recipe called for 4 cloves!] And while the chicken was cooking, it smelled really garlicky, but it didn’t taste it at all. Just well-seasoned and flavorful. The mustard didn’t overpower, either. In fact, I didn’t really recognize the Dijon flavor until I picked up the crunchy bits from the baking sheet and had them for dessert while I was cleaning up the kitchen. [Lea: Ha. I did that, too! Delicious!]

My husband didn’t love the skin underneath the breading…he found it a little rubbery for his liking, so I will remove the skin next time we have it. And I even broiled it for a few minutes to get it extra brown! Pretty, though, isn’t it?

I think this would make a very good Sunday Dinner meal…Lea, there you go! See you on Sunday at your house!

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4 Comments


jannymac1
Sep 15, 2020

Looks delicious! I will definitely have to try this. Lea I’m really impressed with your culinary growth.

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dina.demas
Sep 14, 2020

Yumm...definitely trying this. I'm also very undecided about whether to hack up the whole bird or buy the precut bits. :)

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mariademasgoodin
Sep 14, 2020

Will try this when the weather cools off.

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hgaffney
Sep 14, 2020

Look yummy!! Will have to give it a try!

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