Laurie Colwin's Baked Mustard Chicken

June 1, 2020

Feeds 6-8

Laurie Colwin was a home cook, novelist, and writer of short stories. Her food writing, described as highly personal, attracted a following that has only grown since her death in 1992. Ruth Reichl, writer, editor and former New York Times restaurant critic said: “You want to be in the kitchen with her – that is her secret. She is the best friend we all want. She never talks down to you.” Laurie sounds like a cool lady and I wish I could have hung out with her in her kitchen. I admit that I have only tried her widely acclaimed baked mustard chicken recipe so far, but I cannot wait to delve more deeply into her life and learn more about her and her recipes.

My sister recommended Laurie Colwin’s mustard chicken recipe to me a few years ago. Then, she made it for all of us when we gathered together in Florida for my father's 90th birthday a couple of years ago. It is rare to get most of our family together in one room as we live all around the world. Precious moments, few and far between.

This is a great recipe for feeding a crowd, and you do get that “fried chicken at a picnic” nostalgia with this slightly healthier version of baked chicken. It’s a cult favorite and has become a mainstay in my “easy weekday dinner” rotation. I have made it a few times now and after a couple of tiny adjustments and missteps I have come up with something that works perfectly for me, every time.

I use skinless, bone-in chicken thighs. Chicken skin is not necessary for me. I don’t need relish or crave the experience of “crispy chicken skin”. The missing skin doesn’t take away from the flavor or texture of the chicken. It is tender and juicy and makes a great sandwich for the next day or two. My research did uncover issues around Laurie's suggested cooking time. Many people report that it’s way too long. I just made this last night. I used nine chicken thighs, roughly 4 lbs. I cooked the chicken at 350° F for 1 hour and it was perfection. I suggest checking the chicken for doneness at an hour and going from there. I use more than her suggested three tablespoons of butter to make sure each piece has a nice dab, no skimping. I have only tried this with panko breadcrumbs but I am sure it will be just as delicious with regular breadcrumbs, even better to make your own with day-old bread. Oh, and please don’t be put off by the addition of cinnamon. There is such a tiny amount in the mix, but enough to add just a whisper of spice that melds perfectly with the tang of Dijon.


3/4 cup Dijon mustard

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

salt and pepper to taste

4 pounds skinless, bone-in chicken thighs (about 9 thighs)

2 cups panko breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon sweet paprika, more or less to taste

yCombine the mustard, garlic,hoes anyone remember Shake and Bake?


Heat oven to 350° F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

Combine the mustard, garlic, thyme, cinnamon, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Place the breadcrumbs in another bowl. Coat each piece of chicken in the mustard mixture, and then dip into the breadcrumbs, making sure all parts of the chicken are completely covered. This can get messy. I like to place the mustard covered chicken on top of the breadcrumbs and shake the bowl back and forth. This does a lot of the work for you. Turn the chicken over and shake some more. Or, pour the breadcrumbs into a bag, add the chicken and shake. Does anyone remember Shake and Bake?

Lay the pieces on the prepared baking sheets, a few inches apart. Sprinkle each piece with paprika and dot with a dab of butter. Bake for one hour and check the temperature. Mine was ready in one hour.

Remove from the oven. Eat warm, at room temperature, or cold straight out of the fridge which I did this morning when making my hubby a sandwich for work. Enjoy!

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