Luckily, Nate and I have struck a nice balance in light of his new love: I keep the teasing to a minimum, and he watches his un-dead (or “living-challenged”) shows after I go to bed. But, being a dutiful wife, I still want to support Nate, even in his creepier endeavors. Which is why, in honor of his zombie obsession, I made him the most fitting dinner I could find in my cookbooks: brains.
Ha! Just kidding. Not that you can’t eat brains, of course. There’s just absolutely no way I’ll ever cook them up in my kitchen. No, I made Nate the wicked-sounding Chicken Breasts Diable (devil, in French) from Around My French Table, the fabulous cookbook by the very-much-alive Dorie Greenspan.
Chicken Breasts Diable earned its name from the use of a hearty helping of Dijon mustard in the sauce, at one time one of the spiciest condiments in a French cook’s kitchen, according to Dorie. Pair the Dijon with Worcestershire sauce, shallots, garlic, wine, and cream, and you have a delicious sauce to pour over your pan-cooked chicken (and, honestly, anything else you may prepare as a side).
I went the lazy-woman’s route and made just the chicken, but when I make it again (notice the certainty in that statement), I will definitely sauté some spinach to act as the bed beneath my chicken and the catcher of all excess mustard sauce. Yum.
1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 200 degrees.
2. Pat the chicken breasts dry.
3. Put a large skillet over med-high heat and add the butter and olive oil. When the butter is melted, slip the chicken breasts gently into the pan. Adjust the heat so that the butter doesn’t burn. Cook the chicken until its well brown on the underside, about 4 minutes. Turn the pieces over and cook until the other side is also well browned and the chicken is cooked through. If the pan dries out, add a touch more oil. Transfer the breasts to a heat-proof plate (one with a rim to catch juices), season with salt and pepper, cover lightly with a foil tent, and keep warm in the oven.*
4. Lower the heat to medium, toss the shallot and garlic into the pan and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until just soft, about 2 minutes. Pour in the wine, and when it starts to bubble, stir it around the skillet. Let the wine boil for a few seconds, then pour in the heavy cream. As soon as it reaches a boil, stir in the mustard and 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce. Taste and decide if you want more mustard, Worcestershire, or pepper.
5. Remove the chicken from the oven, pour any juices on the plate into the skillet, and stir the sauce again. Serve the chicken with the sauce.
*I used chicken breasts that were way too thick, in retrospect. So, instead of letting them keep warm in a 200 degrees oven, I cranked the heat to 350 degrees and baked my chicken until it was cooked all the way through, so as to avoid a crusty and dried out breasts that are inevitable when cooking too long in a skillet.