Substitute for Dijon Mustard in this recipe?

Don’t have a link, but it was the chicken and shallots recipe in last Sunday’s NYT Magazine.

Basically, sautéed chicken thighs, shallots, with some cherry tomatoes added at the very end. The sauce calls for dijon mustard, which I do not like, and white wine. I actually don’t like any mustard. I was thinking of substituting some curry paste.

Any thoughts or suggestions for other substitutes? The only spice added (besides salt and pepper) is tarragon.

This is supposed to be a quick and easy recipe that chefs like to make at home. I bought some dijon and am going to split the recipe into two batches-- one with the mustard and one with the substitute.


Hey, I made that dish last Sunday! It was really good.

The mustard really isn’t enough to come through much at all. I actually think the dish would be fine without it. Even if you’re not a mustard-liker, I don’t think you’d taste it much at all.

That said, I like the idea of curry as a substitution, or more tarragon. You really could do almost anything you wanted with it - this recipe demonstrates a great technique, and you could go in a lot of different directions. Throw more spices in, use chicken stock instead/in addition to wine/etc.

You could also do something like a chopped chipotle in adobo for a Mexican-style thing (in which case I’d leave out the tarragon. I think I’d leave out the tarragon for the curry as well). I have a similar recipe that uses fennel and Pernod for a chicken bouillabaisse kind of thing.

I’m assuming this is the recipe:

A lot of the time the dijon mustard is in the sauces as a relatively weak emulsifier to get the chicken grease and the wine to combine together into a sauce rather than oil & water, so to speak. 2 tablespoons in 8 chicken breasts, 2 cups wine, 2 cups tomatoes and whatever juices are released by the chicken and shallots, isn’t going to taste like much, especially with the tarragon in there to kind of throw the flavor off even more.

I might try a milder version of Dijon mustard like Maille rather than Grey Poupon, which can be on the more intense side.

Yeah, that’s why I’m going to make in two batches, just in case the dijon isn’t such a bad thing.

If you went this route, maybe you could substitute Mexican oregano or cumin for the tarragon.

I’m not good with knowing how to pair spices with foods/sauces. Can you explain why the tarragon wouldn’t go with curry? Seems like the dish might be a little too plain w/o anything other than salt and pepper. Although I guess maybe the curry paste has a bunch of other spices in it already?

A few reasons:

  • The curry will probably overwhelm the tarragon, and you won’t taste it much. It’s not that it would ruin the dish, it’s just that it would get lost.

  • I think of tarragon as mostly a European/French herb, and curry is, well, curry. They’re from different parts of the world and are not generally paired together. That’s not to say they can’t work, it’s just not the first pairing that comes to mind.

  • Like you said, curry is already a spice blend; there’s typically no need to add other stuff, unless you want to amp up one dimension of the curry.

As far as the dish being too plain with nothing but salt and pepper, it’s not. I think one of the wonderful things about chicken braised like this is that it’s wonderfully flavorful on its own. Add in the caramelized shallots, wine, and tomatoes, and that’s more than enough for a delicious dinner. The tarragon and mustard add a little complexity, but you can easily skip them for a simpler yet still flavorful dish.

In fact, as I said in my earlier post, this recipe demonstrates a basic technique that can be varied for whatever flavorings you’re in the mood for. Pare it down to chicken browned in a pan then braised with a liquid, and from there, you can do a ton of stuff. Onions or shallots or leeks; tomatoes or bell peppers or fennel or no veggies; white wine or stock or beer or a combination of all; tarragon or curry or basil or salsa. The base - chicken browned then cooked in a covered pan with liquid - is a canvas you can just start layering flavor on top of, or keep it simple and serve it plain.

Case in point: Here’s the chicken bouillabaisse recipe I mentioned earlier. They use the oven rather than the top of the stove for the braise, but either will work. It’s essentially the same technique as the NY Times recipe, but vastly different flavors and much fancier (ie, more work.)

The mustard in this dish adds sharpness and body. You might get some of the same effect by using paprika, a little vinegar, and perhaps a little tomato paste.

I agree with the others who have said that curry and tarragon don’t go together.

OK, I’ve got the chicken, wine, shallots, mustard and tarragon simmering right now. It smells amazing. I added some thinly sliced portobello shrooms-- how can you go wrong with shrooms?

I’m so hungry and this is just filling my house with crazy good smells right now!

Thanks for all the advice, folks. I can hardly wait to dig in!!

Wow, that was absolutely delicious! Here’s the breakdown:

  1. As a few posters predicted, the dijon mustard was not an overwhelming taste. I was afraid that it would be like having it on a sandwich, where I want to just throw it away. It was, at most, a not so welcome secondary undertone to the whole dish. And I can see where I could leave it out and not substitute anything.

  2. The mushrooms were a very nice addition.

  3. I didn’t like the idea of just dumping the split cherry tomatoes on the dish at the end, so I added them, put the cover back on, and cooked it for 2 additional minutes. Just enough to heat up the tomatoes and soften them a bit, but they were not “cooked”.

  4. Served it over a bit of pasta. Yum.

I’m going to try it tomorrow with the curry paste. Just a bit to add some body. And I probably will sub EV Olive Oil for butter-- tastes just as good to me, and it’s more healthy.

ETA: And how basic is this recipe? This is the basis of I can’t even say how many recipes, but with only the most basic of ingredients. Chicken and shallots in white wine with tomatoes (and mushrooms).

Made it again last night, except with thai green curry paste instead of dijon mustard. Only a subtle difference, but I liked it better. I also cooked it, covered, for 40 minutes instead of 30. The chicken was a bit more tender.