Chicken with Shallots: Another Way with Popular Poultry


Chicken is such useful stuff, susceptible to so many ways of preparing it. It has its own flavor but it takes on so many more without dominating. And none of us has to chase a bundle of feathers around a yard, kill, scald, pluck and gut as folks did in the past which, when you think of it, made for quite a bit of effort for the sake of one meal.

We probably have a chicken-based meal at least once a week around here. This week, our Kate, who like me, reads recipes here and there on-line and gets inspired, pulled together a dish based on a couple of good ideas. A combination of mustard, shallots, and wine sounded good to her, and with a basket of homegrown shallots still hanging in the in the cellar-way and homegrown chicken in the freezer, we had on hand what was needed.

In fact, we planted some of next year’s shallots the same day she made this chicken dish. I like shallots because they outlast the onions in storage. The onions sprout, get soft, and we have to use them up or slice and freeze them. The shallots remain hard and useful well into summer. They aren’t so great if you need a whole lot of onion flavor but they are the perfect size for chopping up into a salad or sautéing for seasoning a few fresh vegetables (like asparagus, green beans, zucchini, etc.) In Kate’s chicken dish, in addition to flavoring the chicken, the shallots are left whole becoming a vegetable to eat on the side, so you need a lot of them and all that shallot peeling can feel like a chore. It is worth doing though. A shallot simmered in the chicken, mustard and wine is tender and delicious.

Another wrinkle Kate introduced was using coconut oil instead of butter to brown the chicken in. By the time everything is mixed together, the coconut flavor is indistinguishable. If you have a family member avoiding lactose this is one way you can go. Olive oil would also work.

The last thing to go into the pot was a pint jar of home canned whole tomatoes. Later in the season when we have fresh tomatoes—both paste and cherry tomatoes—we will use those in this dish which I am pretty confident we will make again.

Chicken with Shallots, Mustard, and Wine
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 whole cut up chicken or your choice of chicken parts (thighs, legs)
  • 1 cup flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3-4 tablespoons butter, olive oil, or coconut oil
  • 8 whole peeled shallots
  • 3-4 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 ½ to 2 cups whole paste tomatoes, canned or fresh
  1. Whisk together flour and salt and pepper.
  2. Dredge the chicken in flour.
  3. Put coconut or olive oil or butter in a heavy skillet and heat over a medium high temperature.
  4. Brown the chicken on all sides in the skillet, then remove and set it aside.
  5. Reduce the heat under the skillet to medium and add the peeled shallots to the oil and cook for about ten minutes, turning them to brown but being careful not to scorch. Test the shallots to make sure they are becoming tender and cook longer if needed.
  6. Add the mustard, wine, and thyme to the shallots, simmer and stir to scrape up all the stuck-on bits and cook for about five minutes. Add more wine if the mixture begins to thicken.
  7. Return the chicken to the skillet, add the tomatoes, cover and cook at a steady low simmer for about an hour.
  8. Remove the lid and cook for a while longer, about thirty minutes, to reduce the liquid a little more.
  9. Serve.


Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.