Julia Child’s Deviled Chicken with Mustard and Breadcrumb Coating

April 22nd, 2011

This is not the first time I have had this chicken, but it is the first time I have made it myself.  This used to be my husband’s speciality.  I received Julia Child’s The Way to Cook Cookbook for Christmas in 1989.  I consulted it often and made many great dishes from it.  By 1989 Julia Child had perfected her cooking style and meant this book to be a textbook on techniques and the last word on the way food should be prepared.

David latched onto this recipe, I think, because it requires you to spatchcock a chicken.  He took great delight in bandying the word about and flattening chickens by removing the backbone and throwing them on the grill.  What is it with you men?  We women prefer to butterfly our chickens; same process and easier on the ears.  Use scissors or a very sharp knife to cut out the backbone of the chicken.  Then turn skin side up and press very hard on the breast to break the breast bone.  Tuck the wing bones behind the chicken, make slits in the skin near the tips of the breast and insert each leg in the opening created.

CHICKEN IN BONDAGE.  It’s not pretty but it cooks faster this way.

I’m not sure what prompted me to return to this succulent chicken dish.  Maybe it was because I had a beautiful organic chicken that was calling for special treatment, calling to be slathered in mustard and feathered with breadcrumbs.  Whatever the reason, I’m glad I returned to this classic preparation.

The chicken is first broiled and basted.  Some of the juices are mixed with the Dijon mustard along with tarragon and shallots.

The chicken is then coated with the mustard mixture and breadcrumbs are pressed into it.  I used crumbs from a rosemary olive oil bread.  The chicken is returned to the oven, now set at 400 degrees F.  and baked until the crumbs are browned and the chicken is cooked through.

Savoring this bird was worth every effort of the preparation.


To butterfly a chicken:
First remove the backbone by cutting down close to it on each side with a heavy knife or sturdy shears.  Spread the chicken skin side up on your work surface and bang the breast with your fist to break the collarbones and some of the ribs; this flattens the chicken.Fold the wings akimbo by tucking the wing ends behind the shoulders.  Then maka a slit in the skin at either side of the breast tip.  Push the knee of the drumstick firmly up under the armpit to loosen the joint; then pull it down and insert the tip of the drumstick through the skin slit.  The leg will be held in place.

For 4 servings:
A 3 to 4 pound chicken, butterflied as described above
2 tbs melted butter mixed with 1 tsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
A pinch of thyme, tarragon, or mixed herbs, optional

The mustard and herb coating:
Cooking juices from the chicken
3 Tbs Dijon mustard
2 Tbs finely minced shallots
1/4 tsp tarragon
2 drops of hot pepper sauce
1 cup crumbs from fresh homemade type white bread

Preheat the broiler.  Brush the chicken all over with some of the butter and oil.  Arrange it skin side down in the baking dish, and set it so the surface of the flesh is about 5 inches from the hot broiler element.  After 5 minutes, brush the flesh, which should just be starting to brown, with the butter and oil.  Baste again in 5 minutes – use the juices in the pan when the butter mixture is gone.  Broil another 5 minutes, then sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper, and optional herbs.  Turn the chicken skin side up.  Broil and baste for 10 minutes more.

Drain the fat and juices out of the broiling pan into a small bowl; skim off and discard all but 1 to 2 tablespoons of fat from the top of the juices.  Blend the prepared mustard in another bowl with the minced shallot, herbs, and hot pepper sauce.  Beat up the remaining juices; blend half of them into the mustard.  Spread the mustard over the top (skin side) of the chicken, then pat on a coating of crumbs.  Baste with the remaining juices.

Ahead of time note:  May be prepared somewhat ahead to this point; set aside at room temperature.

Final cooking and serving:  Roast in the upper third level of a 400 degree oven for 10 to 20 minutes or until crumbs are browned and the chicken is cooked through.

Printable Recipe 

13 responses to “Julia Child’s Deviled Chicken with Mustard and Breadcrumb Coating”

  1. Donnie says:

    What a lovely way to do up a chicken. Every step sounds really easy too. Thanks Penny. Happy Easter.

  2. Lyla says:

    This is a perfect presentation of words and pictures. I can’t imagine anyone reading this and not file it away to recreate it soon. I know I am. Thanks for keeping Julia’s spirit alive and well in our memories and recipe collections. Happy Easter.

  3. You can’t beat mustard and breadcrumb topping for chicken Penny. Julia and David were right about this one. Thanks for passing it along to us. Happy Easter to you and your family.

  4. Penny, I always say spatchcock. I’m a woman. Hmm, that’s because Ruth, my partner on Tomato Imperative! always used that term. Very French/German? I have a little saw that I find very effective for cutting out that backbone.

  5. Big Dude says:

    Never thought of a two step cooking process for whole chicken and it sounds delicious. I’d never heard of spatchcocking until I took up serious BBQing and I think you are right – it’s a man thing 🙂

  6. Mary says:

    This looks wonderful and it is one of Bob’s favorite dishes. I really like this recipe. Have a great day and enjoy the holiday weekend. Blessings…Mary

  7. bellini says:

    It is easy to see why this would be a favourite!!!

  8. Rita says:

    I got that book too for Christmas and have been looking at this recipe. Wow and now I get step my step review. Thanks so much Penny; it sure looks Good!

  9. Oh my goodness, my stars, what a fabulous and scrumptious recipe! I’m so happy I dropped in to see you!


  10. Barbara says:

    Oh, I think the men just like the word spatchcock, don’t you?
    I’d say Julia had this one right…what a great coating for chicken. Glad you tried it again and let us know about it. No wonder you love it.

  11. Polly says:

    “By 1989 Julia Child had perfected her cooking style”

    I think she had it nailed quite a few years before that!

    I love this recipe and have done the same thing with leftover sliced roast beef or lamb. Since we eat it rare, it doesn’t hurt to have another go under the broiler with that delicious topping. I found your site by googling and looking for the recipe. I have all her books but can’t find it! Thanks.

    • Annette says:

      I think what the blogger meant was that by the time this cookbook was published Julia Child had already perfected her cooking style and this book was meant to be a textbook on techniques….

      • Penny says:

        Thanks Annette. Indeed, all cooks evolve over time and are open to new techniques and ideas. Even Julia. Appreciate your support.

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