Two separate blogs inspired this dish. I saw this roasted carrot recipe on Storey Publishing’s blog page (I am lucky enough to edit and proofread books for Storey). We adore cooked carrots, but it had never occurred to me to highlight their savory side so emphatically. Bonus: Jess’ writing is beautiful and absorbing. I’m following her blog Hogwash as of now.
Then I got an update from another blog I’ve followed for a while, Trout Caviar, by my pal and fellow Wisconsinite Brett Laidlaw. He wrote about the joys of a long, slow braise. Sure, meats cooked to melting tenderness are terrific, but Brett points out that it’s easy to fall into a trap of flavor sameness. He proposes using acidic liquids and a creative raid of the spice cabinet to expand the braising horizons. His braised lamb with sichuan peppercorns (hua jiao), cider vinegar and turnips is slow cooking at its best.
I’ve braised chicken thighs and roasted carrots plenty of times but, inspired by my fellow bloggers, this time I used white wine and a generous amount of sharp dijon mustard to wake up the warm coziness of the dish. The result is still comforting, but with a surprising bite. The sweetness of the carrots balances the acidity of the wine and mustard. My instinct was to whisk in a drizzle of honey to soften all that sharpness, but I’m glad I didn’t; the brightness would be too muted.
I used boneless, skinless thighs because I’m healthy that way; leave skin and/or bones if you prefer. I’m thinking a bone-in turkey breast would be mighty tasty with this treatment. Parsnips would be a perfect substitute for the carrots.
Mustard-Braised Chicken Thighs with Carrots
2 tbs. olive oil, or a bit more if needed
1/2 cup flour
8 chicken thighs
salt and pepper
1 tsp. dried thyme, or 1 tbs. fresh
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 cup white wine
2 heaping tbs. dijon mustard
1 cup chicken stock
Get your stockpot or dutch oven heating up over medium-high heat with the oil. Season the chicken liberally with salt, pepper, and the thyme, then dredge in flour. Shake each thigh to remove excess flour, then put them in the hot pan. Cook without moving for about 5 minutes until well-browned; flip the chicken and brown well on the second side. You’re not looking to cook the chicken through at this point.
Remove the chicken to a bowl and set aside. Add the onions, garlic, and carrots to the pot, along with a few teaspoons of oil if the pan’s too dry. Cook for a few minutes until the veggies begin to soften. Add the wine and stir to scrape up the browned bits at the bottom of the pan. Whisk in the mustard until it’s incorporated, then stir in the stock. Tuck the chicken back in. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and cook for 45 minutes to an hour until the carrots are tender and the chicken is falling apart.
Serve as is. Or for a smoother sauce, remove the chicken and carrots to a serving dish, then purée the sauce with an immersion blender or in the food processor, or force through a sieve.