Baked Chicken with Mustard Sauce

Our family friend first made this recipe for us way back in the late 80s if I remember correctly and it has been part of my collection ever since. The recipe comes from a chef named Umberto Menghi who has four restaurants in B.C., cooking school in his native Italy, published numerous cookbooks, and even has even appeared in White Spot commercials!

I bought this large roasting chicken a few days ago and thought it would be perfect for this recipe. The recipes calls for the chicken to be split down the breast bone while leaving it intact at the backbone. I’ve done it many different ways – whole chicken, chicken leg/thigh, breast with bone – and all work well.

adapted from The Umberto Menghi Cookbook.

5-6 lb free range chicken

2-3 tbsp olive oil

3 tsp dijon mustard

salt and pepper

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

Mustard sauce:

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 tbsp dry white wine

2  tbsp chicken stock

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 424F. Grab a large roasting pan or line a baking sheet with tin foil and place a rack on top.

Split the chicken down the breast bone and keep the backbone attached. Flatten the chicken out. Using your hands, rub entire chicken with olive oil and mustard. Season with salt and pepper and massage in the garlic.

Place chicken on roasting pan and put in middle of the oven. Leave for 1hr 15min. You may find that a lot of smoke is generated during cooking. All is good. Turn on the fan or open the window! If you remember, during cooking baste chicken with a bit more olive oil but not absolutely necessary. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t.

While the chicken cooks, grab a small pot or pan. Heat up olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute until transparent.

Add wine and chicken stock to onion and simmer for a couple of minutes.

Squeeze lemon juice and add mustard into pot and stir until well blended.

Season with salt and pepper.

The measurements above are what the book uses but I must admit I play around with measurements. Sometimes I find the sauce as done above isn’t saucy enough for me so I add more chicken stock and balance the rest of the ingredients. A bit of trial and error.

When ready, taken chicken out and tent it with a piece of foil for 10 minutes.

Cut chicken into quarters and serve with rice and veggies.

Tonight I made brown rice and served with a sauteed cabbage and onions with garlic. The recipe is by Martha Rose Shulman whom I was introduced to by my cookbook aunt many years ago in Paris.

I was in engineering school and my summer session was over and I had 3 weeks before heading back for the fall session. I decided to go backpacking in Europe during this time and was invited by my aunt (who lived in London) to go to her apartment at a ski resort in Anzère, Switzerland for some R&R and to hit Paris to meet her food writer/chef friends.

It was quite a sight as I headed to a Chinese restaurant in Paris with my aunt and 8 or 9 of her friends. Someone at the table dropped the fact that everyone (except me of course) was a professional food writer and/or chef. Next thing I knew, the owner came out to provide recommendations and we had 2 or 3 waiters waiting on us hand and foot. Nice!

In case anyone is interested, here is the Sautéed Cabbage and Onions with Garlic recipe.

olive oil

1 large onion, sliced in thin strips

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1-2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp sesame seeds

1 lb shredded red or white cabbage

Heat frying pan over medium heat and add oil.

Add onion and cook for a few minutes until soft and transluent.

Add garlic and continue sauté for a few minutes. I skipped the sesame seeds.

Add cabbage and soy sauce and stir-fry for about 5 minutes. The volume should eventually reduce down so that it’s more manageable.

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