Buttermilk-Marinated Roast Chicken with Tarragon and Dijon Mustard

September 28, 2015
7 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

This has become my favorite way to roast chicken. Remove the backbone, smash the breast down, add a few strategic cuts, which helps it cook quickly, makes it perfect for a weeknight dinner!

Years ago, when my husband and I were dating, he took me to the U.S. Open, my first time. There, we had a drink with a napkin that had a chicken recipe printed on it for Dijon Roasted Chicken. It was sponsored by the Dijon mustard people and I remember the recipe called for making a simple sauce of whisking together melted butter, Dijon mustard and dried tarragon, then brushing it on chicken pieces to roast in the oven.

I made that recipe over and over again. It was easy and delicious. And it made me feel like I was really cooking something!

Let this chicken marinate 1 to 3 days and cook with LOVE. —MaryFrancesCooks

What You'll Need
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon red peppercorns, crushed (black works fine as well)
  • 3 1/2 pounds whole chicken, backbone cut out and butterflied
  • 5 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine for deglazing (optional)
  1. Wash and dry your chicken. Using kitchen shears, cut along each side of the chicken backbone and remove it. Turn the chicken breast side up and press on the breastbone to flatten the chicken. Using a sharp knife, cut partway through both sides of the joint between the thighs and the drumsticks. Cut partway through both sides of the joint between the wings and the breast.
  2. Crush your peppercorns by placing them in a small zipper bag and smashing them with a heavy bottle.
  3. Place the dried chicken in a large zipper bag and add the remaining ingredients including the smashed peppercorns, retaining 1 tablespoon peanut oil. Massage everything together to combine, then place in an additional zipper bag to protect it because sometimes the chicken bones cut through the plastic. Then refrigerate for 1 to 3 days. When you open your refrigerator during that time, massage the chicken and flip the bag over.
  4. On the day you’re ready to cook, remove the chicken from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before. Preheat the oven to 450° F.
  5. Set the chicken in a large skillet skin side up; spoon a little marinade on top and then grab the garlic, peppers and tarragon out of the marinade and spread on top of the chicken. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon peanut oil all over the top of the chicken.
  6. Set the skillet over high heat and cook the chicken until it starts to brown, 5 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast the chicken for 30 minutes, until the skin is browned and the chicken is cooked through.
  7. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board or platter. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, deglaze your pan with the white wine. Boil for a few minutes on high heat stirring constantly until reduced in half. Pour the juices over the chicken, cut it into 8 pieces and serve.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • whatshername
  • Sierra Delta
    Sierra Delta
  • leah_shelton_pucciarelli
  • Melissa j Nakhle
    Melissa j Nakhle

17 Reviews

Melissa J. July 2, 2019
Holy Smokes- this burned at 450 F. Although, the chicken was moist (despite the burnt skin), everything in the pan also burned, so deglazing was not an option to use as a sauce! Might make this again, but turn down the heat and broil at the end if necessary to crisp the skin.
Towles March 4, 2018
Can I make this in a slow cooker? with chicken breasts and thighs?
diver114 September 5, 2017
Preparing for hurricane Irma. Can this be mixed together and frozen?? Thanks
whatshername March 12, 2017
This was amazing! The marinade keeps the chicken so moist. I made a slight modification. I used bone-in chicken thighs. (It was what I had and I really wanted to try this. If using thighs, increase cooking time by 10/15 minutes.) Thank you for another wonderful recipe!
diver114 May 25, 2016
This is delish!!!!! We stood over the stove shoving it in our mouths! The second time I cooked this I decreased the salt to about 3/4tbl.
Kelly February 9, 2016
Thanks so kuch I'm looking forward to making this
Kelly February 9, 2016
Can this be roasted as a whole chicken? If so how long would you roast and at what oven temp thx
Ellen January 31, 2016
How can you remove the tarragon from the marinade when it is chopped?
Do you need to add any oil to the skillet before adding the chicken?
jeanne_marie January 25, 2016
Simply amazing! I've cooked many a roast chickens....but this one was far above in flavor, easiness, and total satisfaction. Bravo! Def be making this again and again and again!
Maegan January 13, 2016
This is the first roasted chicken that has turned out delicious for me and not destroyed my oven in the process! Thank you! I roasted the chicken in an oval roasting pan and moved the rack down one slot so I wouldn't have any splatters.
Sarah W. January 10, 2016
Is there any reason not to cook this with chicken parts? I am averse to cutting up chicken.
Marguerite January 10, 2016
Can anything be substituted for the Buttermilk to make a kosher version, or does the chemistry work only w/ buttermilk? thanks
You can use a non dairy milk mixed with a little vinegar to make a dairy free buttermilk. I use soymilk with apple cider vinegar.
Marguerite January 10, 2016
thank you! this helps so much!
Sierra D. January 9, 2016
Thanks, Mary. I appreciate the time you've taken to answer my questions.
Sierra D. January 9, 2016
Thanks! I'm the lone vegetarian in a sea of carnivores, and I don't always trust my instincts when it comes to timing cooking meat.
Sierra D. January 8, 2016
What would the cooking time be if I used all chicken breast halves (I live with picky people)?