Friday, March 1, 2019

Quick-Roasted Chicken

Last week I promised you something from Sam Sifton, the food editor for The New York Times and a good model for MLKers. As a reviewer, he gathers a lot of recipes from chefs and restauranteurs. What’s more, he includes at least one no-recipe recipe each week in his Times food newsletter. A week ago he published over forty of them and they appeared as a full-size standalone insert in the newspaper. Of course I saved it, and I may be making these for a long time. What I particularly admire is that he encourages a cook not to worry about measurements and finicky details—just make the dish. And use plenty of herbs and spices.

One note: he uses chicken thighs in most of his chicken recipes. I understand why: they cook well and remain moist and they’re a convenient single-serving size. But I’ve never been a fan of chicken thighs, or even chicken legs (not since I was about eight and my mother let me pick up the leg at dinner and gnaw on it). So I have substituted chicken breasts, which I (and my cats) prefer. Just don’t overcook them.

Sam Sifton’s Quick-Roasted Chicken


Fresh chicken breasts (or thighs, if you must)
Dijon mustard
A lot of chopped fresh tarragon
Salt and pepper
Bread crumbs (I made my own)

(You’ll notice there are no amounts given. Just mix up enough of the coating to cover however much chicken you’re making.)


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (yes, hot).

Mix together a bunch of mayonnaise, some Dijon mustard, and lots of tarragon in a roomy bowl.

Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper, then add them to the bowl with the mayonnaise mixture and toss them to coat them evenly.

Grease a sheet (flat) pan and put the chicken pieces on the pan. Cover each piece with a healthy handful of bread crumbs, then press the crumbs so they stick to the chicken.

Bake in the hot oven for about half an hour, then test for doneness. If they’re not quite done, cook for another 5-10 minutes. The chicken pieces should be golden brown with a crisp bread-crumb crust.

Serve with whatever you like—rice, potatoes, salad or other veggies.

Doesn’t get much easier than that, does it? Thank you, Sam Sifton.

Shameless self-promotion: The book queue is lining up fast. Next in line is a new Museum Mystery, which will have a title (and a cover!) very soon. It should appear in April, from Beyond the Page Publishing.

In case you're wondering, that's the "real"
Society in Philadelphia, where I worked for
several years.
And then there will be Killer in the Carriage House, the second in the Victorian Village Mysteries in July!

Kate Hamilton is trying to save her struggling home town of Asheboro, Maryland, but there's no money available and nothing there to attract tourists. But Kate is determined to find a way--as soon as she solves the second murder since she arrived.


  1. I really enjoying reading the recommendations by Sam Sifton. This recipe looks like the kind of good weekday workhorse recipe that I often need.

    1. Not long ago I didn't even know who he was. Now I find I'm using a lot of his recipes, which are consistently easy to make and taste good.

  2. I love Sifton, too! His NYT blog, 3X/week, "What to Cook Tonight" or "What to Cook This Weekend," is a treat. I'm relieved to hear of another person who isn't fond of chicken thighs or legs -- I find them too greasy -- so we often substitute breasts, too.

  3. While I prefer the dark meat for the richer flavor.
    This looks like a real keeper.
    I might add a bit of grated cheese and\or garlic.

    1. And feel free to try different herbs. I did kind of like the combination of tangy tarragon with the mustard.