Some 35 years ago, a friend introduced me to a curry-scented chicken dish that has justifiably earned its place as one of my favorite go-to dinners. When I want something tasty that’s simple to make, I look no further than Wood Stove Chicken.
The recipe came from the pages of The Christian Science Monitor and features a sweetly pungent honey-mustard sauce that’s tempting enough to eat solo by the spoonful. Since most people I’ve served this to request seconds, along with the recipe, it seemed fitting to share the ingredients and directions with more people than can fit around my dining room table.
Despite having heated our home with wood for several decades, I confess I’ve never made this one-pot gem using a wood burning stove. Fortunately for me, our electric oven has always accomplished the job admirably. But no matter, since the chicken and sauce ingredients nestle compatibly in a Dutch oven, any reliable heat source should do—gas, propane, electric, charcoal, or wood.
Over time, I’ve tweaked the original ingredients to suit my preferences. I substituted fresh garlic for powdered, slightly increased the curry quotient, and opted for chicken breasts or tenders over a 3-pound bird cut into parts. A melding of the aforementioned garlic and curry, plus butter and Dijon mustard, the sauce thickens to a glossy golden-brown coating for the chicken. Best of all, it requires minimal effort or attention.
As one friend emailed me after creating her first batch without having sampled the dish beforehand, “I liked the fact that it was easy to prepare and used ingredients that I always have on hand. And it didn’t taste like any of the chicken recipes that I have. And, did I mention that it was DELICIOUS!!!”
Wood Stove Chicken
- 1 3-lb. chicken, skinned and cut in pieces (instead, I use enough boneless skinless chicken breasts or tenders for 4 servings. Since I rarely cook 3 pounds of chicken at a time, I cut the sauce ingredients below in half.)
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 1/4 cup brown mustard (Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard works nicely.)
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 tsp. garlic salt (or mince a fresh garlic clove, and add salt to taste.)
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 tsp. curry powder (or more, depending on your relationship with curry.)
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a Dutch oven on top of the stove, melt the butter, and gently sauté the garlic over low heat until just fragrant, or mix in garlic salt. Stir in mustard and honey and blend well, cooking briefly.
Season with salt (if not using garlic salt), pepper, and curry. Add chicken, and stir to moisten all the pieces. Sprinkle with paprika, cover with the Dutch oven’s lid, and bake for an hour if using a 3-lb chicken cut in pieces.
At the half-hour mark, turn over the chicken, sprinkle with more paprika, replace the lid, and continue baking until the hour is up, or the chicken tests done.
Chicken tenders and boneless skinless chicken breasts cook in less time, depending on their thickness, so check them sooner. I usually see how things look at the 20-minute mark. That’s when I turn over the chicken pieces and sprinkle them with additional paprika before replacing the lid and letting the chicken cook for about another 20 minutes.
When the chicken is done, see if the sauce is thick. If it is, you’re ready to serve dinner. If it’s not, remove the chicken from the Dutch oven, and keep it warm while you reduce the sauce.
Put the Dutch oven back on the stove top, and bring the sauce to a boil, stirring constantly. It is thick enough when you can run a rubber scraper or spatula across the pan bottom and create a visible path through the sauce as you stir.
The sauce will thicken even more as it cools. At this point, you can strain the sauce to remove any minced garlic, but it’s not necessary. Pour the sauce over the chicken, and serve immediately with rice or noodles.
If you like a side dish of steamed Brussels sprouts, broccoli, or cauliflower, those veggies taste especially good with the honey-mustard sauce drizzled over them.