April 19, 2012

Copper Pots and Mustard Sauce

Friends, my life has taken a recent turn. Cooking in my kitchen will never be the same again, as long as I live. Thanks to my generous parents and an upcoming wedding, I am the proud new owner of a set of Bourgeat copper pots and pans.
Let me tell you something about copper. It is magical. Even more magical, dare I say, than my beyond-gorgeous blue French oven from Le Creuset. Cooks have been using copper pots for hundreds of years, and the design I enjoy today is from a French company that has been making cookware since the 18th century. The Bourgeat company merged with Matfer, another French exporter of fine cookware. The Matfer-Bourgeat enterprise makes copper in Normandy, then ships their cookware to Houston for distribution to fancy cooks all over America.

Copper is really all around us. It is an excellent conductor of heat and when used in cooking, copper is known to distribute heat so evenly, even on the most temperamental of electric ranges. (Look around the period kitchen next time you watch Downton Abbey. Copper everywhere!) Plus the image of copper, sitting prettily on the stove, full of collard greens or ham, is the very picture of home comfort.
I got these gorgeous things in the mail on the evening of my birthday and was so excited that I called my fiance's parents right away to come over for a birthday supper of shrimp and grits and collard greens. What better way to show off new copper with classic Southern fare? Afterwards, I asked my fiance if he ever imagined he would be marrying someone who cooks grits in copper. He said no.
Maybe I was inspired by the beauty of my new copper, or maybe it was the French heritage that was bringing out some untapped cooking creativity, but a couple of nights later, I made Julia Child's rich brown mustard sauce with thin chicken cutlets and a bed of fresh spinach. This is what I share with you today. Please bring this mustard sauce into your lives and your meat or vegetarian dishes. I cannot believe that I have lived without it for so long. Of course, I cut corners: I used a boxed chicken stock instead of Julia's homemade beef stock, and I used a grocery store Dijon instead of the grainy fresh French mustard that Julia probably used. But! The results were still beyond stunning.

Serve this mustard sauce with chicken, seafood, turkey, or even beef and pork. I have a feeling it would be amazing with scallops. Or even prepared with vegetable broth and served over roasted root vegetables. Get ready to swoon!

Julia Child's Brown Mustard Sauce (Sauce Robert)

For the jus liƩ (thickened brown sauce)

2 tablespoons arrowroot or cornstarch
2 cups brown stock or chicken broth

Combine arrowroot with 2 tablespoons of stock until thick and starchy. Beat into rest of stock and simmer on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, or until sauce is lightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper.

For the wine-mustard reduction

4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons softened butter

1/4 cup yellow onion, finely minced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
1/8 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley

In a small bowl, cream together mustard and butter and set aside. Melt butter and oil over medium-low heat and brown onions slowly, about 10 minutes, until translucent and light brown. 

Add wine and bring mixture to a boil, until it reduces to just a few tablespoons.
Add brown sauce and simmer for 10 minutes. 

Remove from heat and adjust salt and pepper as necessary. Just before serving, beat the mustard-butter mixture into the wine and brown sauce reduction. Serve over dish of choice with minced parsley. Prepare for ordinary weeknight chicken to be transformed into exquisite French dish. 


  1. Drooling with envy! Truly, they are beautiful! My anniversary is coming up. I think 14 years and four children has earned me some copper pots too, don't you agree??

  2. Making me nervous with the metal whisk there. Nice cookware!

  3. Your Bourgeat copper cookware set is so beautiful!! I can't resist the temptation of the shiny luxuriousness. But I have limited budget I prefer to get an set of Cuisinart Copper Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Cookware Set. It is much cheaper than yours for owning only copper exterior not 100% copper. According to an review article the result are promising.

  4. Wonderful post, and with all due respect to Julia, you could get the same or better result with fewer steps in a single pot.

    1) In the pan where you fried the chicken (and where you presumably have drippings and cooked-on chicken bits), deglaze by pouring in maybe half a cup of wine, turn up the heat till it boils slightly, and then use a wooden spoon or silicone whisk to gently work the gunk off the pan (the magic of deglazing is you are cleaning your pot while making something delicious!). When almost all the liquid is cooked off, add oil or butter and cook the minced onion (or shallot if you have them). When the onions are cooked, add a little more butter and work a couple of tbsp flour into the fat and brown it a little (adding flour to fat means you won't get lumps). You end up with an ugly looking gunk of flour, fat, and flavor that is called a roux. To this, while whisking aggressively, you add wine, chicken broth, mustard and salt and spices (maybe thyme, maybe rosemary or even sage?). Then simmer/reduce until you have the right thickness.