I don’t often roast chicken for two reasons. First, I find roasted chicken to be really blah, especially the breasts. (To which the Booze Hound says ‘breasts are never blah,’ eliciting much eye rolling from me.) I know you can brine them, pound them, slather butter under the skin, etc., but to me it’s a little too much work to make something just palatable. I’ve shared my disdain for the lowly chicken breast many times; this is not breaking news.
The second is that the Doberhound and I have our own version of The Hunger Games when chicken is involved. She desperately tries to sneak her snoot onto the counter and steal part of the carcass, while I desperately try to block my work space with my body and protect my bird. She takes a great interest in raw meat, in general, but things like steaks and pork loins don’t really involve a lot of dirty work and are therefore easier to defend. Roasting chicken, or even stripping a rotisserie chicken, is a messy task, and she knows she has more of a chance of scoring a taste. But to date, the Doberhound has only penetrated my defenses one time. That’s a story for another day.
Yesterday, however, she re-wrote the rules of Hunger Games by figuring out how to get into the garbage, meaning I have to step up my game. Or go all Cesar Milan on her ass and assert my role as pack leader. Or just install baby locks on the garbage before the little one takes her first crawl. Opposable thumbs: 1, Doberhound: 0.
Needless to say, I’m not revved any time I have to bust out my cat-like reflexes and roast chicken. But I saw Ina Garten make her Mustard Chicken Salad on TV the other day, and it looked really good. I always glance at it when I’m flipping through her ‘How Easy is That?’ cookbook (which I love love love, BTW), and since it’s one of my unofficial food goals to make every recipe in it, I thought I’d give it a shot. I just did the Filthy Fifty, I can beat the Doberhound at Hunger Games: Mustard Chicken Salad edition.
I made it… and now I kind of want to eat Mustard Chicken Salad every day. It doesn’t sound unique, but this is no average chicken salad. Much as I hate to admit it, roasting your own chicken and pouring the luscious dressing over it while it’s still warm is pretty much the only way I can eat it from now on- being lazy and using a rotisserie chicken might be a thing of the past. Although I still love my tried-and-true chicken salad additions of grape and celery, the tender-crisp broccoli and cherry tomatoes are a totally awesome change.
And let’s talk about the dressing. Mustard and mayo- nothing new, right? I mean, I remember when Di-di-di-dijonaise came out and my world wasn’t rocked. This will rock your world. Maybe it’s the liberal seasoning with salt and pepper, maybe it’s the subtle addition of tarragon, maybe it’s the little bit of vinegar… any way you slice it, this is a rich dressing that you’re going to want to lap up from the bottom of the bowl. The warm chicken absorbs it so nicely, and the broccoli holds enough of it in its branches that you get a little creamy Dijon explosion in your mouth with every bite. And even if you’re not wild about tarragon- you kind of either love it or you don’t- try it in this, and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
If roasting your own chicken breasts sounds a little too Suzy Homemaker, I’m sure it would be delicioso with rotisserie chicken, too. Hunger Games on a weeknight is a little too much to bite off. But everything else comes together so easily, it makes a TON, and it’s just soooo tasty that it’s worth any effort you put into it. Cheers!
- 2 whole (4 split) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on (about 3 lbs)
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 5 c small broccoli florets (I used florets from 3 broccoli crowns)
- 1½ c good mayonnaise
- ½ c Dijon mustard
- ¼ c whole-grain mustard
- 2 T cider vinegar
- 2 T minced fresh tarragon leaves
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub the skin with olive oil. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 35-45 minutes, until the chicken is just cooked (my breasts were huge- haha, I love the sound of that- so mine took the whole 45 minutes to cook). Set aside until cool enough to handle. Discard the skin and bones, dice the chicken into large bite-sized pieces, and toss them into a large bowl.
- Meanwhile, cook broccoli florets in salted boiling water for about a minute- just until tender-crisp. You can then shock them in cold water, but I skipped this step and they stayed nice and green. Drain and set aside.
- For the dressing, whisk together the mayo, Dijon mustard, whole-grain mustard, vinegar, 2 t salt, and 1 t pepper. Add enough dressing to the warm chicken to moisten well (you won't use all of it). Add the broccoli, tarragon and grape tomatoes, and mix gently to combine. Add more dressing to taste, then cover and refrigerate for a few hours to let the flavors develop. Serve at room temperature with the leftover dressing to pass.