The Significance of Mustard in Holiday Planning

Pouring over maps of France during our recent holiday planning got me thinking of the town of Dijon. That naturally led to thoughts of mustard. Dijon mustard is one of those required staples in my kitchen, although I usually don’t consciously think about it. A jar of it is always there, ready when I need a spoon or two of the spicy yellow stuff.

I am quite hoping that those holiday plans might mean a slight detour into the Burgundy town of Dijon where the origin of this particular recipe for mustard can be traced back to 19th century. Although, most of the mustard traded under the name of Dijon is now manufactured by big multi-nationals – not in the Dijon region nor necessarily even in France. Much of the mustard is also now made with Canadian mustard seeds and uses white wine unlike the original that used verjuice. Sad, really, that such a tradition has now been altered and is the product of huge corporations. But, Dijon mustard never attained the protection of the AOC (appellation d’origine contrôlée), a distinction based on the concept of terroir, like Roquefort cheese, Puy lentils and Corsican honey.

dijon-lucca_route

Moving on from Dijon and back to that holiday planning… Trailing a finger south and a little east on the map, the route (literally) cuts through the Alps. The 11.611 km (7.215 miles) Mount Blanc tunnel begins in France and debouches into Italy. Thoughts moved on to northern Italy, which reminded me of a recipe I recently ran across, said to be from Lombardy. That recipe and the idea of Dijon mustard coalesced into this fusion of a French-style sauce with a Northern Italian herbed poultry dish.

herbed_mustard_turkey

Herbed Turkey Steaks with a Creamy Dijon Mustard Sauce
So simple to do and packed with loads of flavour! Besides, all the herbs were conveniently growing in my garden, just waiting to be picked. Serve with a big baby leaf salad and a loaf of crusty bread.

  • 450g. (1lb.) breast meat turkey
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh marjoram
  • 6 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh tarragon
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup double (= heavy) cream
  • 1 teaspoon corn flour (= corn starch)
  • 2 heaping Tablespoons Dijon Mustard

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pot on medium-high neat. Slice the turkey breast into 1/2 inch steaks.

herbed_mustard_turkey_prep1

Clean and chop all the herbs.

herbed_mustard_turkey_prep2

Brown the turkey on one side in the oil. Turn the meat and immediately lower the heat to a simmer, sprinkle on the chopped herbs and add the white wine. Cover and cook gently for 30 minutes.

herbed_mustard_turkey_prep3

Meanwhile, mix the corn flour with a little of the cream to make sure there are no lumps before adding the rest of the cream. Mix in the mustard. Set this aside while the meat continues to cook.

When the 30 minutes is up, turn the heat off the meat. Turn the meat, herb side down and replace the lid. Let the meat sit for 10 to 15 minutes before removing it to a warm platter. Place foil over the platter and keep warm in the oven, set at the lowest temperature.

Make the sauce, turn on the heat to medium-high under the pot that still has a small amount of wine and the herb pieces. Pour in the cream and mustard. Scrape the herbed pieces from the bottom of the pot and keep stirring until the sauce begins to thicken. Serve the meat with some sauce spooned over top and any leftover in a sauce bowl on the side.

herbed_mustard_turkey_prep4

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20 comments

    • This mustard sauce is so easy and it really goes well with all those herbs – the tarragon in particular. Confession: I always preferred ketchup on hot dogs, although it is something I rarely eat these days. Perhaps I was missing out by not slathering them with Dijon.

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  1. An informative look at Dijon mustard and a lovely herby sauce recipe. I didn’t know that about verjuice. I am always attracted to those big old fashioned French pots of Dijon. I must confess, my eyes wandered down the map to one of my favourite Italian cities, Lucca. We have stayed there a few times, once in an apartment near the railway line, just outside the walls and close to that little train that choofs up to the small towns in the Garfagnana foothills, and then another time in the countryside, a few miles out. If you are really heading to Lucca, I am deeply envious.

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    • We are, indeed, headed towards Lucca! But, we’ll be staying a little north of there in the foothills of Garfagnana. Until I wrote the post, I also didn’t know about the verjuice in Dijon mustard. Just goes to show what you pick up with a tiny bit of research. I’m hoping to find some pretty pots of mustard to bring home (as well as all that great stuff from Lucca) – the benefits of travelling by car.

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      • Which village in the Garfagnana? A bit more teasing out please, since you now have my full attention and envy. It is such a long haul for us to get to Italy. I hate long plane trips and wish I could just pop in a car and drive down there.

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      • A village of a few houses called Pedogna – halfway between Lucca and Bagni di Lucca since this is area we want to explore. We are staying in an old, traditional (i.e. basic) tiny house. It is on the way to the local chestnut museum in the area. We usually fly, but we have a bit more time this year, so we thought we would drive. It’s an new adventure for us – beginning with the car train through the chunnel!

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      • Sounds absolutely delightful. Do report on that tiny house stay and explorations in the area. Funny you mention chestnuts- my husband discovered that he was allergic to chestnut flowers once when we were in that area, sneezing and crying for a day or two until we realised what it was. A touch of trivia!!

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  2. Love mustard and this sauce looks delicious. I think that planning holidays by condiments is a very valid method. Your holiday sounds pretty fabulous, enjoy!

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    • I like the idea of “holiday by condiments” – sounds absurd, like one of those zany comedies, or an odd-ball food programme for daytime TV. The sauce was delicious. Tarragon is one of those herbs made for mustard. They go so well together.

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  3. Food is always such a vital part of holiday planning, for me it’s always the highlight even though i’m into all the usual touristy activities of visiting museums, galleries, sites of historical significance, photography etc, finding authentic regional foods and places to eat matter!! I’d detour 100s of klms to find genuine dijon mustard!

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    • For me, too. Fingers crossed – hope to find some authentic French, Dijon-produced mustard, perhaps using verjuice. Thinking of all that lovely Tuscan produce to bring back. It is one of the benefits of travelling by car within the EU. Have a little while, yet, to plan and dream.

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  4. Your posts are always so informative. I didn’t know that proper dijon was originally made with verjuice – now that I have my own version in the fridge, will combine it with the mustard. I love any sauce that uses dijon mustard, and this one looks super. Sounds like a wonderful trip you have planned. We used to visit Dijon when we lived in that part of the world – would love to go back.!

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    • Amazing what a tiny bit of research uncovers! The mustard sauce is so easy to do and fantastic with the herbs. I saw your blueberry verjuice post – very interesting! It made me wish I had more blueberry bushes. My next post is on ‘verjus’, but made with unripe grapes from the garden. Am looking forward to the trip, but have a little more time yet to tidy things up in the garden and kitchen.

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  5. Don’t you love summer and all those delicious fresh herbs! Looks like a lovely sauce.
    I’m excited to hear more of your trip planning…someday we’ll go back and visit more of the French countryside. Dijon will definitely be one of our stops! I never liked Dijon mustard before but as I get older my tastes are changing

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    • I don’t know what I would do without Dijon mustard! Am looking forward to our trip, but I suspect that a lot of France will be seen from the car window as we speed down the motorway. Still, hoping for a few stops to soak up the atmosphere (and do a little shopping/eating). The sauce was easy to do and went very well with the herbs – particularly tarragon which seems to have an affinity with mustard.

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  6. Oh,I apologize to you and so many others for being away from all of your blogs,(and mine), for so long.I hope you had a wonderful time! My mother’s people are from just SW of there, near Perugia.

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