July 10, 2015

Roast Chicken with Mustard and Grapes

Author Notes: I’ll admit that I don’t eat as much fruit as I should, but when grapes are in season, I can never resist bringing some home from our farmers’ market. I’m always looking for savory applications for grapes, and I have come to love using them to dress up pan sauces. This one features both mustard seeds and Dijon mustard, as well as the warm, lemony flavor of coriander. I think the combination works really well, and makes a great accent to a simple plate of roast chicken – it’s easy enough for a weeknight, but elegant enough for company. Note: I prefer to use a light homemade chicken broth – if you are using a commercial brand, use an unsalted variety so you can control the level of sodium. As far as the Dijon goes, I like it really sharp – Maille Extra Hot is a favorite.

This recipe is living proof that keeping things simple often yields great results. By creating a pan sauce with a few carefully chosen ingredients, lastnightsdinner takes roast chicken and elevates it to elegance. The headliner is the mustard (she calls for both Dijon and brown mustard seeds), but no less important are its four sidekicks: toasted coriander, lots of finely chopped shallot, fresh thyme and red grapes. By combining these with a little chicken broth and the pan drippings in the cast iron skillet in which you've already cooked the chicken, you end up with a sauce that belies the relative simplicity of the dish. It's simultaneously creamy, tangy, aromatic and a bit nutty (we're guessing from the coriander?). Its skin having been salted and left to dry in the refrigerator overnight, the roast chicken is both crisp and tender, and the half-cooked grapes pop pleasantly in your mouth, leaving their sweetness behind. We're pretty certain we could eat this every day.

Serves 2-4

2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken parts
Kosher salt
1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
1/2 cup finely chopped shallot
1 cup halved seedless red grapes
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

Season the chicken pieces aggressively with Kosher salt and refrigerate, uncovered, overnight. Remove from the refrigerator and allow them to come to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 450
Toast the coriander seeds in a dry skillet for a few minutes until fragrant. Remove and crush in a mortar and pestle
Arrange the chicken in a cast iron skillet or other ovenproof pan. Place in the oven and roast for approximately 25-30 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 (remembering that the chicken will continue to cook as it rests).
Remove the chicken to a platter and tent loosely with foil.
Pour off all but about 2 teaspoons of the fat from the pan, then add the shallots and grapes. (Note: if you aren’t using particularly fatty pieces of chicken, you may need to add a little olive or vegetable oil instead.) Cook over medium heat until the shallot is softened, stirring occasionally.
Add the crushed coriander seeds and the mustard seeds to the pan, then add the broth. Whisk in the Dijon until it is incorporated, then cook until the sauce is reduced by half. Taste and adjust salt if necessary.
Stir in the fresh thyme leaves, move the chicken pieces to individual plates or a serving platter, then spoon the sauce over the chicken pieces.

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