I’m going to show you how I like to take a dish from good to memorable. My secret weapon is a sauce. A sauce can make a great chef or expose a shoddy one, but in the comfort of your own home here is a simple one that you can stir up in just a few minutes.
- 3 tsp of canola oil (or duck fat)
- 2 chicken legs bone in, skin on (or if you must, a chicken breast with skin – if you hate skin just take it off before eating)
- 1 Shallot (onion works well too)
- 1/2 cup of white wine, chicken stock, vegetable stock or in a pinch water
- 1 TBSP of Dijon Mustard
- 1 TBSP of sour cream
- fresh or dried herbs of your choice (I love oregano and thyme)
I usually serve the sauce over chicken so I start with a very hot pan. I add a little canola or olive oil. Then brown the chicken. Just let it get gold and crisp on one side and then you can flip it over. If you are going to serve the sauce over something already cooked like a rotisserie chicken or grilled mushrooms, then instead of browning meat you can cut a strip of bacon into tiny squares and render that down in a pan over low heat. Or if you want it to be vegetarian just sautée some onions or shallots until caramelized.
Once the meat is browned set it aside. The chicken is not usually fully cooked here but that’s okay. (I will usually toss it into the oven here with some cut up vegetables to finish roasting in the oven while I make the sauce. 400℉ for about 20 minutes depending upon the size of the legs.)
Whether you did chicken, bacon or onions you’ll have some nice caramelized bits stuck on the pan. Throw in some shallots here (or onions) and let them cook in the drippings. Once they are cooked you’re ready to layer in the elements of the sauce. First you deglaze the pan which just means your going to loosen up all those tasty caramelized bits with some white wine, or stock. Add your salt, pepper and herbs now. Taste for seasoning.
Once the wine has cooked down and the alcohol has mostly burned off, then add in a spoonful of Dijon. Stir it in until smooth. Then you’re going to add a spoonful of the sour cream. The result is a luscious, smooth, tasty sauce that doesn’t have the heaviness and richness of a sauce that needs a roux or a lot of butter and cream.