Mustard Cheddar Chicken

Years ago, when I lived in the UK, I saw a recipe for Mustard Cheddar Chicken in a magazine. Because this was such a simple recipe to convert for one serving, it was perfect (not to mention a delicious way to use up the dregs of a bar of cheddar). Also, it incorporated the flavours of cheese with mustard, which is a classic British combination I came to highly appreciate.

Mustard happens to be one of my favourite condiments. I love the classic tangy yellow mustard on sandwiches. I add Dijon mustard to salad dressings and serve it with meat. I could eat it by the spoonful. Mustard has been cultivated for nearly four thousand years, and is used as a condiment in cultures across the world, from France to India. Ancient Romans mixed unfermented grape must with ground mustard seeds. In medieval England, mustard seeds were rolled into balls with flour and spices. In the fifteenth century Italian cookbook, Libro de Arte Coquinaria, by Maestro Martino (c. 1465), the author provides several recipes for the condiment, including one that combines mustard seeds with ground almonds, and another with raisins and cinnamon.

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Sinapis (Mustard) in the Tacuinum Sanitatis, a late medieval health treatise (BNF NAL 1673, fol. 23, first half of fifteenth century).

In the depths of January, I was searching for something to make for a weeknight supper, and remembered this recipe. However, we also had the remains of holiday and charcuterie boards lurking in the fridge. So I adapted the recipe to use up ingredients. Instead of bacon, I used pancetta, which crisped up wonderfully in the oven. I also added some caramelized onion chutney to round out the flavours. The swaps made the chicken just as good—maybe even better—than the original! You could easily switch up the type of cheese used, and potentially the type of mustard.

This is not a very photogenic dish, but it is tasty. And a clever way to use up bits leftover from a holiday or dinner party! The sticky bits left behind in the pan are particularly addictive.

Mustard Cheddar Chicken

Makes 4 servings.

150g grated cheese (i.e. a strong cheddar)
2 tbsp herb cream cheese, such as Boursin
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp caramelized onion jam
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts
8 slices of prosciutto or bacon

1. Preheat oven to 380F.

2. Mix the cheeses, seasonings, and mustard together. It will be fairly stiff. Divide the mixture into quarters, and form log shapes.

3. Cut a slit into the side of each chicken breast, then stuff with the cheese logs.

4. Divide the onion jam between the chicken breasts, stuffing it alongside the cheese mixture.

5. Wrap each stuffed chicken breast with 2 bacon strips or pancetta slices – not too tightly, but enough to hold the chicken together.

6. Season, place on a baking sheet and roast for 20-25 mins, or until the juices in the centre of the chicken breast run clear.

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