January 13, 2011

Mistral’s Chicken in a Snowstorm {Webisode #55}

What’s Going on Today: Shoveling, sledding, laundry, more shoveling.

Naptime Goals: Peel garlic cloves, cut up the chicken, write Babble columns.

Tonight’s Menu: Mistral’s Chicken, creamy polenta, arugula salad.

Parenting Lesson of the Day: Pulling them in the sled can be quite a workout!

There is something about snowstorms that sends me running for my dutch oven. It is like the cold weather triggers some deep seeded need for rich, homey food that is piping hot and packed with flavor. Luckily, when this happened during the snowstorm in Connecticut last weekend I had a roaster chicken and my camera at the ready. As the flakes fell on Friday night visions of tender roast chicken and porridge-like polenta danced in my head. A meal that was hearty, but not heavy; flavorful, but not overwhelmingly so.

The next day I awoke fresh from my slumber full of inspiration and ready to cook. The sun was out and our neighborhood was a veritable winter wonderland. One that demanded at least an hour on the sledding hill followed by a hearty meal of Mistral’s Chicken. This is a classic Patricia Wells recipe that my mother has made for years. I know it can sometimes be boring to read about recipes you’ve already heard of, but this one bears repeating. There is no other recipe I’ve found that manages to produce such a succulent and flavorful bird. I make it at least twice a winter and intend to do so for years to come.

To prepare it during naptime I quartered the chicken and peeled the garlic. Then in the evening I seared the chicken pieces and cooked them on a bed of peeled garlic cloves. After simmering away the chicken was more pungent then I ever thought possible and the garlic was so caramelized it was as sweet as candy. Not to mention that my kitchen was a guaranteed vampire-free zone.


While it cooked, the garlic and herbs seem to penetrate every single ounce of chicken making it so moist that the meat feel right off the bone with the touch of a fork. No knife necessary. On this particular day it turned out to be the perfect cozy winter meal for all three of us. The sun set far too early for our liking and as it did we tucked right into our plates piled high with a rich, delicious dinner. It was the kind of meal that felt like a treat even though it was a snap to make. Exactly the kind of meal one needs on a cold winter day.


Mistral’s Chicken with Garlic

adapted from Patricia Wells


1 3- to 4-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2
  • tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    40 large garlic cloves
    10 – 12 sprigs of thyme
    ½ cup dry white wine
    ½ cup chicken stock or canned broth


    1. Season chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Place a deep, nonreactive skillet or Dutch oven over high heat, and add oil and butter. When fats are hot but not smoking, add chicken pieces skin side down and cook until skin turns an even, golden brown, about 5 minutes. Work in batches, if necessary, and carefully regulate heat to avoid scorching skin. Turn pieces and brown them on other side for an additional 5 minutes.

    2. Reduce heat to medium. Bury garlic cloves under chicken to make sure they settle in one layer at bottom of skillet and add the thyme on top. Sauté, shaking or stirring pan frequently, until garlic is lightly browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Add wine and stock, scraping bottom of pan.

    3. Cover and continue cooking until juices run clear when a thigh is pricked, 10 to 15 minutes more. Serve chick

    Naptime Notes

    Naptime Recipe Serving ideas

    We loved ours with a delicious creamy polenta and green salad. And, of course, wine or beer. This chicken is even great for a casual dinner party!

    Naptime Stopwatch

    40 minutes

    Naptime Reviews

    My daughter likes her chicken to be so tender it is almost soup, so she loved this. My husband and I devoured ours, though brushed our teeth heartily before kissing each other goodnight!

    More Naptime Recipes

    4 Responses to “Mistral’s Chicken in a Snowstorm {Webisode #55}”

    1. Tina says:

      I will try this when I can get my hands on a chicken. We’re four days into a hard freeze and my stocks in the freezer are zilch. Turkey carcass yes, chicken to cook, no.

    2. FoodontheTable says:

      I love garlic, so I know I will love this chicken. I can’t wait to try it!

    3. Fay says:

      I tried this recipe and it was excellent! Thank you for sharing it! I’m looking forward to more recipes from you since I too am a naptime chef.