The Crispiest Chicken in Mustard Cream Sauce

Be still my heart and soul. This meal. Without fail, I eat this dish at least once a week and I see no end in sight. This stove-to-oven method of cooking chicken thighs and legs makes the crispiest skin I’ve ever achieved sans fryer. It’s incredible to contrast the tenderness of the baked chicken with a skin that audibly cracks when cut because it’s fully rendered and cracker-crisp.

The sauce is truly life-changing. Tangy, garlicky, and just the right amount of creamy. I, personally, am not a pure cream sauce fan–you’ll never see me ordering the fettucine alfredo. For me, when something is just pure cream, it’s almost too rich. I need something to cut through the richness and bring a bright and sunny flavor to the mix. Brandy, wine, lemon, onion, garlic, two different mustards, chicken broth, and a touch of cream create something ever-so balanced and matched with just the right amount of contrast.

I have been making this chicken dish for going on about six months and every time I do, I get the measurements more spot on and the ingredients just that much more to my liking. I started making the sauce with only wine, then I added brandy, and the next week–lemon juice. Then, I used all three. One day I used just dijon mustard then another day, I threw whole grain mustard in the mix. It’s really a great thing that I love to eat, so much, because who else is going to fine-tune my recipes for me?

I included, below the recipe and method for this meal, all the variations that I have tried to date for your experimentation pleasure. I hope you adore this recipe as much as I do. It’s something special.


INGREDIENTS (serves 4)
For the chicken and sauce:
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and/or legs (I use a 12″ skillet and use as many pieces as I can snuggle into the pan! In these pictures, I had extra-large thighs, so I  This is up to you and how many you need to serve)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1 cup of brandy and/or dry white wine (I use 1/2 cup of each, you can use 1 cup of only one. You can also use chicken broth, if you prefer, but I highly recommend the booze approach!)
The juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
3 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream

Suggested sides & garnishes:
Starches: Pasta, rice, potatoes
Steamed Greens: Baby kale, dinosaur kale, collard green, mustard greens
Sprinkling of fresh herbs: Chives, flat-leaf parsley, thyme

DIRECTIONS
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Rinse the chicken and dry each piece thoroughly with paper towels. Season the chicken generously with the salt and pepper then with the all-purpose flour poured out on a piece of parchment, dredge each chicken piece completely in flour so they are all fully covered.

3. Pour the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet that is over medium heat and let the oil get hot for about one minute. Add the flour-coated chicken to the skillet, skin side down. Let the skin side crisp up for 4 minutes or until skin is golden. Turn each piece over and cook for another 4 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside on a plate. Pour off excess grease & fat that has rendered off the chicken, leaving only a tablespoon or so in the pan.

4. Lower the heat on the skillet to low. If your skillet is screaming hot, turn off the skillet and remove from the burner for a few moments to allow it to cool off a bit before returning it to being over low heat. We want to be very careful not to burn the onions! Add the diced onion and to the skillet and stir to soften, about 2 minutes.

5. Add in your liquids–brandy, wine, and lemon juice. When adding alcohol to a pan over an open flame, remove the pan from the heat before adding the liquid to avoid a flare-up. Whisk to remove browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

6. Add in both mustards and minced garlic. Stir to combine.

7. Add the chicken, SKIN SIDE UP, back into the pan. Cover. Put into oven and bake for 15 minutes.
8. After 15 minutes is up, remove the cover from the pan and bake for another 15 minutes.

9. To finish, remove the chicken from the skillet and place on a plate. Return the skillet to the stove over low heat and add chicken broth to thin the reduced sauce–let cook for 2 minutes. While the sauce cooks, whisk the sauce incorporate the flavors together.

10. Whisk in the cream to finish the sauce, letting the cream bubble and blend into the sauce for about a minute.

11. Serve with your favorite starch, steamed green, and finish by sprinkling with fresh herbs.

The convenient printable recipe summary is below. And just below that, keep scrolling for ideas on how to vary up this dish.

The Crispiest Chicken in Mustard Cream Sauce
Serves 4
Chicken that is cracker-crisp on the outside from being baked instead of fried and juicy on the inside. Then, made infinitely better by being drenched in the creamiest mustard sauce that is perfectly tangy from liquor and mustard, making it not overly rich. Be prepared to fall in love.
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Cook Time
50 min
Cook Time
50 min
For the chicken and sauce
  1. 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and/or legs (I use a 12" skillet and use as many pieces as I can snuggle into the pan! In these pictures, I had extra-large thighs, so I This is up to you and how many you need to serve)
  2. 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  3. 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  4. 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  5. 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  6. 1 small onion, finely diced
  7. 1 cup of brandy and/or dry white wine (I use 1/2 cup of each, you can use 1 cup of only one. You can also use chicken broth, if you prefer, but I highly recommend the booze approach!)
  8. The juice of 1/2 lemon
  9. 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  10. 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  11. 3 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
  12. 1/2 cup chicken broth
  13. 1/4 cup heavy cream
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Rinse the chicken and dry each piece thoroughly with paper towels. Season the chicken generously with the salt and pepper then with the all-purpose flour poured out on a piece of parchment, dredge each chicken piece completely in flour so they are all fully covered.
  3. Pour the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet that is over medium heat and let the oil get hot for about one minute. Add the flour-coated chicken to the skillet, skin side down. Let the skin side crisp up for 4 minutes or until skin is golden. Turn each piece over and cook for another 4 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside on a plate. Pour off excess grease & fat that has rendered off the chicken, leaving only a tablespoon or so in the pan.
  4. Lower the heat on the skillet to low. If your skillet is screaming hot, turn off the skillet and remove from the burner for a few moments to allow it to cool off a bit before returning it to being over low heat. We want to be very careful not to burn the onions! Add the diced onion and to the skillet and stir to soften, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add in your liquids--brandy, wine, and lemon juice. When adding alcohol to a pan over an open flame, remove the pan from the heat before adding the liquid to avoid a flare-up. Whisk to remove browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  6. Add in both mustards and minced garlic. Stir to combine.
  7. Add the chicken, SKIN SIDE UP, back into the pan. Cover. Put into oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  8. After 15 minutes is up, remove the cover from the pan and bake for another 15 minutes.
  9. To finish, remove the chicken from the skillet and place on a plate. Return the skillet to the stove over low heat and add chicken broth to thin the reduced sauce--let cook for 2 minutes. While the sauce cooks, whisk the sauce incorporate the flavors together.
  10. Whisk in the cream to finish the sauce, letting the cream bubble and blend into the sauce for about a minute.
  11. Serve with your favorite starch, steamed green, and finish by sprinkling with fresh herbs.
Suggested sides & garnishes
  1. Starches: Pasta, rice, potatoes
  2. Steamed Greens: Baby kale, dinosaur kale, collard green, mustard greens
  3. Sprinkling of fresh herbs: Chives, flat-leaf parsley, thyme
One Happy Place http://www.onehappyplace.com/
So, I mentioned the evolution of this dish. For me, changing and tweaking the dish made it more and more to my liking. That doesn’t mean other variations might be more to your liking. Here are some others ideas for side dishes to snuggle in the pan with the chicken, how to lighten up the sauce, and how to lean up the protein.

If you don’t have the brandy: I omitted the white wine and made this version with all brandy. I served it with spaghetti, steamed baby kale, and topped the skillet with fresly snipped chives.

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A little bit lighter: I doubled up on the lemon juice and omitted the brandy AND the cream on this version, making the sauce so much tangier. I even included slices of lemon in the pan when I baked the chicken. The steamed and bitter rainbow chard was a stand-alone side on this version, no starch needed, in my opinion.

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If you prefer only pasta: Then, serve it with only pasta. I’m a big fan of those tubey noodles in this sauce. Also, on this guy, I had no whole grain mustard left so I doubled up on dijon.

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If you prefer no pasta: I snuggled this chicken batch with a side of rice, tossed in lemon juice before diving into the cream sauce. I finished this one with lemon slices–I didn’t bake them with the chicken. Also, steamed curly kale.

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If you can’t afford the calories of chicken skin: I totally get you on this one. This dish is just as good with boneless skinless breasts. Sear the seasoned and dredged chicken for a minute on each side before removing, complete steps 4-6, do not return the chicken to the skillet but cover it and bake just the liquid for 15 minutes, return the chicken breasts to the pan and bake uncovered for 15 minutes. Then, follow steps 10 & 11.

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