We are currently in the throes of an unprecedented worldwide pandemic that has dramatically upended our everyday routine. As the novel coronavirus makes its way around the world, it’s taking down economies and overwhelming healthcare systems. In a desperate effort to stem the spread of infections, countries have been forced to bring non-essential commerce to an abrupt standstill. People around the world have been ordered into isolation by remaining in their homes and abstaining from social contact. Never have I witnessed anything that has impacted humans on the entire planet as this virus has.
Here in France, we went into government mandated confinement at noon last Tuesday. The day or two leading up to it were intense, as people scrambled to stock up on essentials and food. Interminable queues to get into grocery stores were not uncommon and once inside the stores, many shelves were already empty. Fortunately, I was able to reup my pantry the morning hours before we went into lockdown. The first few days were cake, but as the novelty wore off, I started to feel stir crazy. We are now on Day 8 and I find it challenging to get into a routine. Focusing during work hours has become a monumental feat and I’m starting to crave human interaction. Though I’ve been staying connected with family and friends via video calls, I’m feeling the effects of a deficit of physical human contact. Nonetheless, I’ve been able to keep my spirits up by maintaining a sense of humor during this disquieting time.
In spite of the constraints that have been imposed upon us for the sake of public health, I haven’t let the situation put a damper on my creativity. My creative energy had already been simmering before the arrival of the virus, and confinement has only added fuel to it. As stultifying as this situation can be, I’ve been leaning on my urge to create to get me through the days. Reading, writing, and making photographs have not only helped me process my thoughts, but they have also helped buffer me against losing my mind while being stuck alone indoors.
Prior to the confinement, I had dug through my trove of photos that I had never processed to get back into photography again. Among the photos were those for this poulet à la moutarde | mustard chicken dish. I had intended to post this recipe ages ago, but never got around to it until now. Typically, this dish is made with rabbit here in France, but I haven’t yet gotten hip to the idea of eating animals that are commonly household companions. So, my version of the dish calls for chicken. I hope that this dish adds a bit of warmth and zest to your dining table during this period of isolation.
Poulet à la Moutarde
Makes 4-5 servings
1.2 kg chicken, cut into 10 pieces
3 shallots, diced
1 small onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
3-4 bay leaves
½ tsp dried tarragon
2 tbsp whole grain mustard
2 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp crème fraîche
25 cl white wine
10 cl fond de veau (veal stock)
salt & ground black pepper
Season the chicken with salt and black pepper. Heat up some olive oil in a deep sauté pan over medium-high heat. Brown each side of the chicken. Once browned, remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
Heat up some more olive oil in the same sauté pan over medium-high heat and sweat the onions, shallots and half of the minced garlic. Then add the crème fraîche, mustards, dried tarragon, and bay leaves and stir.
Deglaze with the white wine and allow to reduce. Then, add the chicken back in and the veal stock to the pan. Cover and allow to simmer over low heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the remaining minced garlic to the pan.
Once the garlic is fragrant, add steamed rice and stir until it is uniformly coated with the oil and garlic. Season with a pinch of salt and ground black pepper.
Serve the chicken with garlic rice & a side of greens dressed with a vinaigrette.
Thanks for reading & stay safe,