The last few weeks, I feel like we’ve descended into moderate chaos.
We kicked off a what-feels-like major construction project in our home. There is dust flying everywhere. All doors in our house are shut to keep it out. The project, which I’ll share more about later, is already going to take twice as long as originally predicted. But even though everyone told me that was going to be the case, I’m still somehow caught off guard.
Our kitchen is now—temporarily—our main entry and exit point, meaning that it’s filled with muddy rain boots and snow boots that dragged salt in and the occasional pair of running shoes—because I’m still somehow making it to the gym—but also some spring footwear because Wisconsin weather be Wisconsin weather and it seems like we’re hitting all the seasons within a week. Also, our light jackets and winter coats live on the kitchen floor now. I’m debating buying a temporary coat rack, but there’s no space for it.
Needless to say, I haven’t been cooking much. It’s the unwelcoming space but also the mental block I’m trying to get over. I know I’m spending too much time in front of the computer and not enough time thinking or just being still. This has made for come uncreative dinners.
But this week I finally decided to put all this behind me. I wanted some crispy chicken skin and I wanted a cream sauce. I wanted to make said cream sauce without cream, but with crème fraîche instead to give it a tangier, more interesting flavor.
It helped to pick up the kitchen just a little bit—just enough so that I could get around to the important things: the dutch oven, the cutting boards, the sharpest knifes, the whisk. Then I kicked everyone out of the kitchen—Theo to bed and Jason to his video games—and I finally enjoyed myself again. Here’s what I made.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2½ - 3 pounds bone in, skin on chicken thighs
- 2 large (or 4 small) leeks, washed and trimmed, white and light green parts sliced thin
- 1½ pounds crimini mushrooms, sliced thin
- 1½ teaspoons Kosher salt, divided
- ¾ cup crème fraîche
- ½ cup chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- In a large dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Sprinkle chicken thighs with ½ teaspoon Kosher salt, then place into oil, skin side down. Cook until skin is nicely browned, about 5-6 minutes, then flip and brown on other side for an additional 5 minutes. Transfer to plate.
- Add leeks to pot and let soften for about 5 minutes. Stir in mushrooms and 1 teaspoon Kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms release their juices, about 10 minutes.
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together crème fraîche, chicken broth, and mustard. Add mixture to vegetables and stir. Reduce heat and let simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Add chicken thighs back into vegetables, coating them with some of the sauce. Cover and cook for about 10-15 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Let cool slightly to allow sauce to thicken.
- Sprinkle with parsley before serving.