Eight ingredients. That's all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a weeknight feast for family or friends. That's the philosophy behind our "8 & $20" feature. We hope it adds pleasure to your table.
Like sequins and shined shoes, any recipe containing the phrase “to finish the sauce” is a little too fancy for Tuesday. But trust us: This one, with chicken thighs braised in white wine and shallots and, yes, a sauce finished with heavy cream, is an easy way to bring special-occasion status to the weeknight dinner table.
Here, Dijon mustard pulls double duty, as both a quick marinade for the meat and also a kick to finish the simple sauce. Barely-cooked spinach makes an earthy counterpoint, while sprinkling toasted sliced almonds and minced tarragon on at the end adds texture and bright flavor to the crisp-skinned chicken thighs.
Using wine as a braising liquid makes this dish naturally wine-friendly, but the sauce, made from stirring mustard and heavy cream into the braising liquid, is rich, so you’ll want a wine with some weight. A Spanish white made from Godello grapes was pretty, ripe and round, but disappeared with the food. A Chardonnay from South Africa, however, held its own. The golden-colored wine, which was partially barrel-fermented in new oak, was lush, appley and crisp alongside the sauce.
Pair with a lightly oaked Chardonnay such as Rustenberg Chardonnay Stellenbosch 2010 (90 points, $20)
Total Time: 45 minutes
Approximate Food Cost: $33
1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Cover the chicken thighs in 4 tablespoons of the mustard and season with salt. Heat 2 tablespoons of cooking oil in a heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium-high heat, then add the chicken thighs, skin side down. After the skins have browned, remove the chicken thighs and reserve.
2. Add the sliced shallots and cook until soft, around 3 to 4 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Add the wine and scrape up the browned bits on the pan with a spatula. When the wine comes to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, then add the chicken thighs back to the pan, skin side up. Add water if necessary so that the liquid level reaches three-quarters of the way up the chicken, then place the pan in the oven for 30 minutes.
3. While the chicken is cooking, bring salted water to a boil in a medium-size pot. Add the spinach and cook until bright green, around 2 to 3 minutes, strain and reserve.
4. When the chicken is done, remove the pan from the oven, and then remove the chicken from the pan and reserve. Strain the sauce, reserving the shallots. Pour the sauce back into the pan and bring to a boil on the stove over high heat. Add the remaining teaspoon of mustard and cook, stirring, until the sauce has reduced by half. Turn off the heat and stir in the heavy cream to finish the sauce. Plate the chicken on a bed of spinach and shallots and top with a few spoonfuls of the sauce and a sprinkle of sliced almonds and minced tarragon. Serve immediately. Serves 4.
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions