how to make: tarragon chicken
This is one of those classic recipes that you can posh up a bit by serving the chicken and sauce separately, with some fresh pasta and a salad. Naturally you would then call it L’estragon poulet rather than Tarragon Chicken. Or you can serve it in bowls as a soupy thing with lots of fresh crusty bread to dunk. Although in my yeast free state, I’m leaving the crusty bread to the rest of the family.
I have been cooking this recipe for years. This version of a classic French recipe comes from Scottish chef, Nick Nairns’ Wild Harvest. I re-discovered this book (which used to be one of my favourites) the other day when I was searching for inspiration and a potato scone recipe. I needed to replenish my brownie point bank account with my Scottish hubby & given that I refuse to prepare haggis (and yes I have hunted one of those wee beggars down in the past) or black pudding (eeeeeuw) potato scones are the most palatable of the (culinary) options available to score major points quickly. As an aside, I am of the opinion that whisky was invented to allow the swallowing of the haggis…with all due respects to my Scottish readers of course, och aye.
Anyways, here is the recipe. When I want a soupier result, I also complete this recipe in the slow cooker. It gives a different, but just as satisfying result. This time around I also had to substitute more stock for the wine- given that wine’s also off my menu still…oh how I miss it…
Oh, and no photo of the food- I’m not a clever enough food stylist to make comfort food like this look attractive.
Chicken- preferably free-range. I use a combination of thighs and drumsticks. I prefer the skin off as it keeps the fat down, but keeping the skin on gives you a moister and more luxurious result.
2 tablespoons oil for frying (I use rice bran, but sunflower is fine)
50g unsalted butter
1 large Spanish (ie purple) onion, peeled and sliced into gorgeous little half moons
1 garlic clove crushed (I usually throw another couple of unpeeled cloves into the pot for a tad more flavour)
15g tarragon leaves (you’ll need the stalks, so don’t throw them away). Pop what you don’t use into the freezer for next time.
165g button mushrooms, cut in half
300ml white wine
600ml chicken stock (I always make my own and have it in the freezer. Any good commercial stock is fine, but please not powdered stocks for this recipe.)
few drops of lemon juice
What you do with it:
Heat a large pan until hot & add the oil. Fry the chicken until golden. Keep aside.
Heat a large saucepan or stove top friendly casserole pan. Add the butter, then garlic, onions & tarragon stalks (the ones I told you to hang onto). Cook for about 5-10 minutes until they start to colour. Add the wine & reduce the liquid by about 3/4 .
Add the chook, mushies and the stock. If it needs it, add just enough water to make sure the chicken is covered in liquid. Add a few drops of lemon juice. Bring to the boil and immediately lower the heat. Simmer gently with a lid on for an hour- skimming & stirring occasionally.
Remove the chicken and set aside. Increase the heat & reduce the cooking liquid by half. Remove the tarragon stalks (and any stray garlic cloves which you threw in), pop the chicken back in & add the tarragon leaves- that you have had the foresight to chop up.
Naturally if you are doing this as a soupy in the bowl with lots of juices thing, don’t stress too much over the reducing.
Plonk it in the middle of the table with mash or pasta or whatever it is you are using, and let people help themselves. Too easy.