As many cooks know, some of the best eating is born from frugal necessity. Braised pork belly, chicken liver pâté and even steamed lobster were once the food of the masses. In this recipe from their new cookbook, Southern Comfort, husband and wife chef team Allison Vines-Rushing and Slade Rushing of MiLa in New Orleans turn ingredients like chicken thighs, celery and seedy mustard into food so luxurious it's hard to believe it was created in a bare-bones kitchen.
Chicken Thighs Braised with Creole Mustard
Recipe adapted from Southern Comfort by Allison Vines-Rushing and Slade Rushing (Ten Speed Press)
Yield: 4 servings
Cook Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
8 chicken thighs
1¾ teaspoons fine sea salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 celery stalks, trimmed and sliced on a bias into ¼-inch pieces, plus 1 tablespoon finely chopped celery leaves
1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
¼ cup raisins
1 bay leaf (preferably fresh)
1 rosemary sprig
1 thyme sprig
2 tablespoons Creole or country-style whole-grain mustard
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth
½ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Season both sides of the chicken with 1½ teaspoons of salt and the black pepper. In a large, deep, oven-safe skillet or pot set over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add the chicken thighs, skin-side down, and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the skin is golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Use a metal spatula to turn the thighs over and cook until the surface of the meat pales, about 1 minute longer. Transfer the chicken skin-side up to a plate.
2. To the skillet, add the celery, onion, garlic, raisins, bay leaf, rosemary, thyme and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high and stir in the mustard, then pour in the wine. Cook until the wine is slightly reduced, 3 to 5 minutes, then add the broth and nestle the chicken thighs skin-side up into the skillet.
3. Cover the pan and braise the chicken in the oven for 25 minutes. Uncover and cook 20 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a platter and set aside.
4. Set the skillet over medium-high heat and add the cream. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove the bay leaf, rosemary and thyme, and stir in the chopped celery leaves and parsley leaves. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve.