If there were ever a chicken recipe that defied the boring and sometimes bland reputation of chicken, this would be the recipe.
Chicken Gaston Gerard tastes like a guilty pleasure; decadence unleashed and ripe with exquisite flavor and silky texture. I felt almost giddy when I happened onto this French dish many years ago. The ingredient list was simple and intriguing and just the mention of Gruyere kept my attention as I read through the recipe.
I found this fascinating recipe while browsing a few of my vintage cookbooks one Sunday morning – tea cup in hand along with the last chocolate chip cookie from the cookie tin. I settled in on my sofa with my pile of cookbooks ready to discover something new and delicious.
And I did! The title of this recipe was in French so I searched online and discovered the dish had originated in Dijon, France. What a coincidence! My oldest daughter has a dear friend who lives in Dijon.
I contacted my daughter’s friend in Dijon, the beautiful Marion, and asked if she or her family had heard of this recipe. I was thrilled to receive a reply email with her Mum’s family recipe for Chicken Gaston Gerard and the true history of the recipe, which for me is almost as much fun as finding the recipe itself.
According to history, the recipe was created in 1930 for Maurice Edmond Sailland, known by his pen name Curnonsky. Curnonsky was once the most celebrated writer on Gastronomy in France and dubbed The Prince of Gastronomy. Curnonsky traveled to Dijon at the invitation of the Mayor of Dijon. The Mayor’s wife, Madame Gaston Gerard created this dish especially for Curnonsky’s visit. It was a success; and as they say… the rest is history.
While researching Poulet Gaston Gerard I found many variations. Some of the recipes prepared the dish with shallots rather than yellow onions and used heavy cream rather than crème fraiche. Most of the recipes list bone-in chicken but I decided to create my version of Chicken Gaston Gerard with boneless chicken breast.
Throughout all the Gaston Gerard recipes I browsed, there is one consistent ingredient listed. Dijon mustard. I prefer Maille brand Dijon in this dish. The mellow, yet bright and flavorful mustard, is perfect for the sauce and doesn’t overpower or leave an astringent aftertaste.
This lovely and enchanting Chicken Gaston Gerard is truly a special dish that I make often for special occasions. It has the perfect amount of decadence to make the evening feel special yet it’s simply prepared with ingredients easily found in most markets.
I typically pair this dish with a wild rice pilaf, cooked pearled barley, farro or pearled couscous and an arugula salad with fresh citrus, feta and toasted pine nuts. Delicious combinations of flavors; lush and complimentary that makes a special occasion indulgent and an every day moment extraordinary.
- 4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts (feel free to substitute with fresh chicken pieces and adjust cooking times accordingly)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 sweet onion, halved and sliced (yellow onion or 2-3 shallots are also excellent substitutes)
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 6-8 ounces Crème Fraiche (or sour cream if creme fraiche is unavailable)
- ½ – 1 cup shredded Gruyère Cheese or Comte (Emmentaler Swiss is also a good substitute)
- Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
- Using a large non-reactive skillet, add the butter and oil to the pan and heat on medium high.
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides.
- When the butter oil mixture is sizzling and frothy, add the chicken breasts and brown, about 2-3 minutes on each side.
- Transfer the chicken to a baking dish and then place in the oven to finish cooking, about 10-15 minutes or when the chicken internal temperature reaches 155 – 160F using a meat thermometer.
- In the same skillet turn down the heat to medium and add the onion slices and sauté the onions until golden brown.
- Stir in the paprika and add the wine. Let the wine simmer and reduce by half.
- Take the skillet off the heat and stir in the Dijon mustard and then the crème fraiche. Once the mustard and creme fraiche are smooth and incorporated into the onions, place the skillet back over low heat and let the sauce simmer for a few minutes until it reaches a desired consistency and then pour over the cooked chicken.
- Sprinkle the chicken with Gruyère cheese and then place back in the oven for another 5-8 minutes to warm the chicken and melt the cheese. Transfer to a platter or individual plates. Serve immediately.