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Carla Hall's Creamy Dijon Chicken and White Wine for Mother's Day

A fast and tasty French recipe to cook for mom, and 11 recently rated New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs to pour alongside

Laurie Woolever
Posted: May 2, 2014

If you've yet to book a restaurant table for the mother in your life, or if you prefer to fete her at home for Mother's Day, you'll want something tasty and elegant, but more or less foolproof—something like Carla Hall's recipe for Chicken in Dijon Cream, from her new book, Carla's Comfort Foods.

The book is less about clichés of macaroni and cheese and more about, as Hall says, "food that I find memorable, food that I might have had in my own home, or in friends' homes, and the kinds of foods that families make for each other without even thinking about it, because that's how they show love. I eat in restaurants a lot and have beautifully presented meals, but what I find myself craving is something homey, that has a story about the people behind it."

Hall, a former model, was a contender on Bravo's Top Chef TV series and is now a co-host on ABC's The Chew, alongside chefs Mario Batali and Michael Symon. After working as a chef at Washington, D.C.'s Henley Park Hotel, State Plaza Hotel and The Washington Club, she spent many years at the helm of her own catering company, which in recent years has given way to a baking company, Carla Hall Petite Cookies, specializing in the bite-sized cookies she would send to catering clients as thank-you gifts.

On Mother's Day, Hall and her sister plan to cook for their mother. "My dad was the cook in our house, but when I was growing up, my mom was the queen of pancakes, and my sister and I became the princesses of pancakes," recalls Hall.

The chicken recipe shared below would make a wonderful Mother's Day lunch or dinner. "When I first visited France, I didn't taste anything like this ... I was so into the lardon salads that I didn't try many other things," Hall says. "Since then, I've had fuller French dining experiences. Now, when I dig into this creamy sauce, with mustard and wine perfectly balancing the richness, I feel like I'm in Paris again."

Serve this with the best-quality baguette you can find, a crisp salad of spring greens dressed with vinaigrette, and a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, whose juicy, citrusy notes will serve as a great foil for the sauce's creamy richness, while the light herbal qualities build a bridge to the thyme and tarragon accents.

Chicken in Dijon Cream

Recipe Copyright © 2014 by Carla Hall from Carla's Comfort Foods, published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (2 pounds total)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
  • 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus more if needed
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock or unsalted chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves

1. On a large cutting board, place the chicken between sheets of wax paper. Pound with a meat mallet, rolling pin or heavy skillet until the meat is an even 1/2 inch in thickness. Season the chicken generously with salt.

2. Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Coat with the oil, then add the butter. When the butter is foamy but not brown, add half the chicken, smooth side down. Cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Then carefully flip the chicken over and cook until nicely browned but not cooked through, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining chicken, reheating the pan and replenishing the oil and butter if necessary.

3. Add the onion to the skillet and cook, stirring and scraping up the browned bits, until just soft, about 1 minute. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half, then add the stock. Simmer for 1 minute.

4. Whisk in the mustard and cook, stirring, until the mustard is well incorporated, about 1 minute. Stir in the cream and a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer and then slide in the chicken and the accumulated juices. Partially cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 2 minutes. Stir in the thyme and tarragon, and serve hot. Serves 4.


Note: The following list is a selection of outstanding and very good wines from recently rated releases. More wines can be found in our Wine Ratings Search.

ASTROLABE Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough Province 2013 Score: 90 | $23
Smooth and succulent, with white peach, green tea, melon and lime zest notes, all in harmony with the juicy, defined finish. Offers a good balance of elegance and power. Drink now. 33,000 cases made. —M.W.

FRAMINGHAM Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2013 Score: 90 | $20
Smooth, with a fleshy base of peach and nectarine, highlighted by juicy acidity and details of Meyer lemon, melon and ruby grapefruit. A good mix of power and elegance. Drink now. 25,500 cases made. —M.W.

SAINT CLAIR Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2013 Score: 90 | $18
A tangy white, with vivid white grapefruit, lime and lemon flavors that are crisp, vibrant and pure. Shows good focus and intensity, with powerful aromas of white flowers. Drink now. 30,000 cases made. —M.W.

MATUA Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2013 Score: 89 | $13
Vibrant and fragrant, with a tangy core of lime zest, ruby grapefruit and dried pineapple. Juicy and refreshing on the finish. Drink now. 100,000 cases imported. —M.W.

NOBILO Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough Regional Collection 2013 Score: 89 | $13
Flavors of pear, green apple and lemon zest are intense, focused and smooth, with a hint of lime. Culminates in a crisp finish. Drink now. 480,000 cases imported. —M.W.

SILENI Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough Cellar Selection 2013 Score: 89 | $13
Succulent Key lime, melon and green apple flavors are accented by lemon zest and lemongrass aromatics. Juicy and refreshing on the long finish. Drink now. 100,000 cases made. —M.W.

THE CROSSINGS Sauvignon Blanc Awatere Valley 2013 Score: 88 | $15
Tangy, with a core of green apple, passion fruit and Key lime flavors. Smooth and intense, finishing on a mouthwatering note. Drink now. 60,000 cases made. —M.W.

CROSSROADS Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough Milestone Series 2013 Score: 88 | $15
Bright and lemony at the core, with details of lemon zest, lemongrass and fresh green herbs. Smooth and refreshing on the finish. Drink now. 50,000 cases made. —M.W.

KONO Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2013 Score: 88 | $12
Tangy and bright, with juicy flavors of fresh lime juice, ruby grapefruit, pineapple and lemon, set on a light, smooth body. Drink now. 100,000 cases made. —M.W.

RIBBONWOOD Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2013 Score: 88 | $15
Fragrant and floral, with a juicy core of lemon, lime, peach and melon flavors that crescendo on the finish. Mouthwatering acidity. Drink now. 15,500 cases made. —M.W.

ALLAN SCOTT Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2013 Score: 88 | $17
Lemongrass and fresh lemon flavors are in harmony in this white, supported by tangy acidity and apple, lemon, thyme and lime zest details. Drink now. 50,000 cases made. —M.W.

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