The love of cooking. Chefs love to cook. We don’t always love working the 14 hr days under incredible stress, but in the end, remove the fatigue, picky customers, grueling hours and military-like assault we put ourselves through on a daily basis, in the end we still love to cook. It’s like a painter in front of a blank canvas; all of a sudden, the passion returns.
As I mentioned, I do not cook professionally anymore, but I am HEAVILY involved in the food world, and am never far removed from the kitchens where I worked. And for me, cooking is now an escape. A chance to let the stress of the day melt away in whatever concoction I am working on. I feel as though most people who love to cook share a similar outlook. Open a bottle of wine, put on some great jazz, and you know before you even touch a single ingredient that the food is going to be extraordinary. You love to cook. Chefs love to cook. Everyone loves to eat.
For this recipe, I chose something a little off the beaten path, and take from it what you will (ie the killer sauce). This is a chef’s dish, something wonderful to make when you need to escape reality for a couple hours and pour yourself into the food.
This recipe involves splitting a chicken in half and removing all the bones without puncturing the skin or mutilating the meat. Please go to youtube for lessons in this if you’ve never done it before. And whole grain mustard sauce. Forget any misconceptions you might have about whole grain mustard. This sauce is exceptional and is in my opinion, a keeper.
Roast Half Chicken with Caramelized Onions, Swiss Chard and Whole Grain Mustard Sauce
prep time: 1 hour
Active cooking time: 1 hour (includes butchery)
1 chicken, cut in half, all bones removed except wing supreme, reserve all bones
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup maille whole grain mustard
2 cups Swiss chard, chiffonade cut
1 yellow onion, julienne cut
2 cups prepared chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
organic unsalted butter
3 cloves whole garlic
In a medium heavy bottom sauce pot, begin caramelizing the chicken bones with the shallots. When deep golden brown, deglaze with white wine and add 2 sprigs fresh thyme. Cook until reduced by 3/4. Add chicken stock and reduce by 2/3. Add cream and mustard, and slowly simmer until thick (will coat back of spoon). Strain and hold warm.
In a heavy bottom sauce pan, heat 1 tbsp oil. Liberally salt and pepper chicken and place in hot pan, skin side down. Turn heat to low, add 3 sprigs thyme, garlic and 1 tbsp butter. Cook until edges of chicken are showing signs of doneness. Flip chicken and continue to cook until cooked through. Return pan to high heat, flip chicken one more time and re-crisp skin and remove from pan and let drain on paper towel for 5 minutes. Drain the pan. Using the same pan, add fresh oil and add onions and cook until deeply caramelized. Add swiss chard, cook until wilted with onions, season with salt and pepper.
Place swiss chard/onion mix in center of the plate. Place chicken on top and sauce liberally.
I like to serve this with roasted potatoes and riesling. It screams French country side; simple food, from the earth. And it is absolutely incredible. The flavors will linger in the back of your mind for a while. Just incredible.