The winter rain that falls in Paris comes down in silver threads, and streets glisten and reflect the light. Moisture fogs the windows of cafés and bistros and turns them into welcoming beacons of comfort.
Down the street from my little house in Paris is a tiny bistro. The wooden chairs and the tiny black and white tiles on the floor show their age. Decades of patrons have worn them to comfortable perfection The tables are close together. The menu is chalked on a blackboard. It is where you want to be on a cold, damp, raining winter night.
The chilly night calls for something hot and fiery, á la diable. Diable is associated with anything hot and fiery. You will find various versions of this classic chicken in cafés and bistros all over Paris. Chicken or meat seasoned with mustard and hot pepper then coated with bread-crumbs.
My recipe for CHICKEN WITH MUSTARD AND RED PEPPER is a riff on a recipe by Patricia Wells. Her book, THE PARIS COOKBOOK. To read or cook from it is pure delight. I use French Dijon and coarse-grain French Dijon, a whisper of cayenne pepper, a dusting of red pepper flakes . It goes together quickly. Almost before you finish singing La Marseillaise you top it with a little butter and pop it in the oven and bake it (despite the name). Pour yourself a glass of sauvignon blanc (it goes well with the chicken) and voila! That’s it.
Here’s the very, very best part of this recipe. I think it tastes better the next day. It is NOT left over chicken. You can double or even triple the recipe. Don’t be concerned about the amount of red pepper flakes and cayenne called for in the recipe. For some wonderful and unexplained reason they become just a hint of spice. This is the chicken recipe to serve again and again and call it your own. Tweak the spices. Add a little more of this. A little less of that. To go with the chicken I roast chunks of Yukon Gold potatoes tossed in a glug of extra-virgin olive oil and a generous sprinkle of coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper. This chicken recipe is known in our home as PICNIC CHICKEN because it is so delicious eaten cold the next day. The flavours absolutely sing.
I always pack Poulet GvillÉ a la Diable in my big wicker basket when Theadora, The Tin Man and myself head to the summer sandy Paris Beach. We lounge on the beach next to Pont Neuf bridge. Full size palm trees provide shade, and the passing parade of chic Parisians in beach attire provide the entertainment.
This no-fail chicken recipe that speaks of good things with a decided French accent awaits you in MRSBUTTERFINGERS kitchen. Bon Appetit dear friends.
(Paris photo by Patrick Horpar)