Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tarragon Chicken

Tarragon Chicken is lovely dish of chicken, cream and tarragon - a classic in France. Serve it over rice or pasta.

I read cookbooks like novels. Every recipe evokes an emotion and hints at a story, the person who invented the dish, the culture that nurtured the tradition or the landscape that grows the local produce used. Jamie magazine’s 22nd issue is all about France and French cooking.

The whole issue was like snuggling into a warm bed in the dead of winter, while cold rain falls outside. We lived in Paris for three years and, while it wasn’t all a bed of roses and I can acknowledge the highs and lows of Paris, all in all it was a happy three years full of family, friends and fun and fresh food.

When I read this recipe, I knew I had to make it. Just the word tarragon brings me back. (Does anyone use tarragon but the French?)

Tarragon Chicken

Call it Tarragon Chicken or Petite Blanquette De Poulet a L’estragon, if you are feeling fancy. This recipe is adapted from one in the cookbook Boundary by way of Jamie magazine, Issue 22. 

3-4 tbsp olive oil
1 x 3 lb or 1.4kg chicken, cut into 8 pieces
1 large carrot, roughly chopped
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
5 1/4 oz or 150g button mushrooms, quartered
3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon or 50ml white wine
1 bunch of thyme, tied with string
5 bay leaves
2 cups + 1 tablespoon or 500ml chicken stock
1/3 cup or 40g flour
1/8 cup or 40g butter, softened
Juice of 1 lemon
Scant cup or 220ml whipping cream
2 egg yolks, beaten
3–4 tbsp chopped tarragon

Heat two tablespoons of the olive oil in a large pan over a high heat. Add the chicken, in batches if necessary, and cook until browned on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Wipe out the pan then heat the remaining oil. (I skipped this step because I couldn’t bear to wipe away all the beautiful caramels of the pan. I don’t know why on earth you would want to get rid of all that flavor!) Add the carrot, celery and onion and cook over a medium heat for five minutes, until the onion is translucent.

Add the mushrooms and cook for a further five minutes. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half. 

Return the chicken to the pan with the thyme, bay and stock. Simmer, covered, for 40–50 minutes or till the chicken is falling off the bone.

Spoon the chicken and vegetables into a serving dish and keep warm. Strain the cooking liquid into a saucepan. 
(I simply used a slotted spoon.)

Whisk together the flour and butter, (which we all remember is called beurre manie, right?) add to the cooking liquid, whisking continuously, and place over a medium heat.

Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes. (I don’t know if my simmer is hotter than the Jamie test kitchens, but I didn’t have a whole lot of juice let after the chicken and the vegetables were scooped out so I had to add about 3/4 cup of water to make the sauce easier to stir.)

Add the lemon juice and season to taste.

Combine the cream and egg yolks in a jug and whisk into the sauce.

Stir in the tarragon, pour the sauce over the chicken and serve. 

I served this over some lovely linguine. It was indeed delicious! Enjoy! 

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