When I first started cooking, ‘Chicken with Pan Sauce’ was one of my favorite things to make. It was easy, quick and economical (aka CHEAP) to prepare, and I never got bored trying to come up with new combinations of aromatics and liquids to create something completely different each time.
The basics of creating a simple pan sauce begin with your meat, which is typically sautéed in a skillet then placed in a preheated oven to keep warm. The aromatics (usually garlic and/or shallots) are then added to the still hot skillet and browned before adding the wine/juice/stock that will break up the fond (all the leftover bits from the meat stuck to the skillet). I cannot emphasize enough the importance of the fond in developing the flavor of a pan sauce – I can usually tell how tasty a sauce will turn out based on the amount of fond left in the pan after the meat is removed.
The fond that resulted from this particular recipe? PURE GOLD.
This pan sauce is a little bit different than the traditional formula because it excludes the traditional aromatics and instead relies on coarse ground mustard for its bold flavor. Because the mustard can be added along with the wine and the chicken broth, essentially removing an entire step from the process, this turned out to be one of the easiest pan sauces I have ever made.
Before we jump into the recipe, can we take a minute to talk about this wine?
I have never been what one could call a “wine snob” – I was drawn to the majority of my favorite wines primarily because they were on sale – however, when I learned that Target would be offering their own wine for the low price of five bucks a pop, I was a little dubious. Wines that I have tried previously in that price range have always been super disappointing and left me with a raging headache. With this wine, however, I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only was it quite drinkable, I actually found myself re-purchasing it again and again.
Every cookbook I have ever read said that you should only cook with wine that you would drink – and when you cook with wine as much as I do, finding a quality wine for $5 is pretty much as good as it could ever get.
Chicken Thighs with Red Wine Mustard Sauce
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup red wine (I used Target’s California Roots Cabernet)
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tsp coarse ground Dijon mustard
1 tbsp butter
Fresh or dried parsley for garnish (optional)
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees
- Season the chicken on both sides generously with salt and pepper
- Place the chicken in a cold nonstick skillet, skin side down
- Place the skillet on a burner and turn the heat to high
- When the chicken starts to sizzle, reduce the heat to medium and cover with a tight-fitting lid for 15-20 minutes, checking periodically to ensure it’s not burning
- When skin is brown and crisp and detaches easily from the skillet, transfer the chicken skin side up to an ovenproof dish and set in the oven to keep warm
- Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the skillet and add the mustard, red wine and chicken broth
- Use a wooden spoon to loosen the fond before bringing the liquid to a simmer
- Once the liquid is reduced by half, tilt the skillet and whisk in the butter
- Pour the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with parsley if desired