CHICKEN WITH MUSTARD AND RED PEPPER (a.k.a. Picnic Chicken) . . . a Paris classic . . . Poulet Grille a la Diable


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)








9 thoughts on “CHICKEN WITH MUSTARD AND RED PEPPER (a.k.a. Picnic Chicken) . . . a Paris classic . . . Poulet Grille a la Diable

    • And the very best part I take my dear friends along with me, You become part of my life here on The Farm just outside Vancouver. And then with a few written words – into my magical, fantasy world in Paris. Cheers Virginia

    • I appreciate your suggestion. I know how frustrating it can sometimes be – this navigating the internet. If recipes are really short and simple I occasionally post them on Bel’Occhio. MRS.BUTTERFINGERS “print recipe” program makes it easier to have your own copy of a recipe. Happy 2018 Janet. Cheers Virginia

    • Dear Jo Nell, Picnic Chicken has become a weekly favorite. Tucked into the fridge it means no one can say “I’m hungry. What do we have to nibble on? And an extraordinarily wonderful and peaceful New Year to you, dear girl. XXOOOVirginia

  1. Virginia, how can something that looks so divine have devil (le diable) in its name? 🙂 It must be all those fiery spices!

    I’d love to try this out, but we must find some gluten-free bread crumbs first. I see you recommend not using Panko. Is there a particular type of bread that you favor for your homemade crumbs?

    • Tricia dear girl. You are absolutely right. French recipes with fiery ingredients js identified “le diable”. We make our own “house” bread (wickedly wonderful white bread) for toast and so own. It has a firm crumb and soft crust. When it becomes a day old or so I whirl it in the food processor for soft, fluffy crumbs. I freeze them. The softer bread crumbs gives you a delicate, crisp crumb on your chicken. The other problem I have with Panko is its indiscriminate use in lazy restaurants – where they use Panko on everything they deep fry. Bon Appetit Virginia

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