Thursday, December 11, 2014

Le Poulet à l’Estragon - Roasted Tarragon Chicken #FarmToTableFrench #Giveaway

This classic French dish of chicken roasted with tarragon is simple but delicious. It is traditionally served alongside potatoes or rice. French tarragon, cultivated for its aromatic, somewhat anise-like flavor, with works beautifully with chicken or fish and is essential in a classic béarnaise sauce. 

Home is where the heart is
We have lived it so many places that I have fallen at least a little bit in love with, if not head over heels. I am an unabashed Anglophile starting from my first few years of school on the British system circa 1968-70 and a large piece of me will always love tropical Trinidad. I can cook and samba with the best of Brazil and my deep relationship with Malaysia defies borders and description. Tanah Airku. My homeland. Although, of course, it’s really not. I’ve been a devoted Francophile since the spring sun began warming our garden just south of Paris and our prolific cherry tree came into bloom in 1992. And I could go on. But as a person who was raised to love food and adventures with ingredients and preparing deliciousness, let’s just talk about France for a little bit. Never have I lived anywhere more obsessed with the sourcing and the cooking and eating of food. Unless you count my own grandmothers’ kitchens where we would talk about what to cook for the next meal even while eating the current meal. I learned my way around buying the delicacies of France by asking questions and blundering through with my high school French. If only I had had this book!

A few weeks ago I received a very welcome email about a new book that was just being published called The Farm to Table French Phrasebook: Master the Culture, Language and Savoir Faire of French Cuisine.  It was written by a French woman named Victoria Mas and centered on FOOD: the etiquette of eating, great ingredients and their French translations, how to ask for what you want in France, how to buy it in markets and order it in restaurants or bakeries or butchers and, finally, with a few recipes at the end, how to cook some essential classic French dishes and desserts. I could have saved myself a scolding from the market stallholders years ago with Victoria’s instructions not to touch the fruit but to allow the proprietor to choose the tomatoes or pears or lettuces for me, if only I had had this book. I could have avoided the distain of haughty French waiters by ordering in French from the get-go. Okay, that’s probably a pipe dream, but it would be worth a try, right?

Gift idea!
If you have aspirations as a Francophile, or know folks who already are, I highly recommend you get yourself or them a copy of this useful book. It’s hardback but a great little size for traveling, which you will want to do directly when it arrives; straight to France to try out all the vocabulary and hints and tips.

Thanks to the publisher, Ulysses Press, I have one copy to give away! Please scroll down to the bottom of this post to leave me a comment to enter. I’d love to hear about whether France is on your must-visit someday list or if some other food-centric country is at the top. It’s all about the food for me. :) If it’s some place else, maybe we can talk the publisher into making this a series with different native authors!

This is not a cookbook but, as I mentioned, it does have some recipes at the end so, even if your trip isn’t imminent, you can still enjoy French cuisine at home. I got permission to share the very simple but delicious recipe for chicken with tarragon with you. I was first introduced to the herb tarragon in France – Is it used anywhere as much as there?! – and it is special. It elevates a simple chicken dish from ho-hum to remarkable. What follows is the original recipe as it is in the book with my adaptations in parentheses.

1 whole chicken, 1.5 kg/about 3 lbs, cut into 6 pieces (I used 1kg or 2.2 lbs chicken thighs.)
30ml or 2 tablespoons olive oil
4 sprigs fresh tarragon
 (I couldn’t find fresh so I used a couple of teaspoons of dried.)
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 190°C or 375°F.

(First I drizzled a little olive oil in my oven-proof dish.) Place the chicken pieces in an oven-safe dish. Drizzle with the olive oil, garnish with the tarragon, and season with salt and pepper.

Bake for about 40 minutes.

Turn the chicken pieces every 10 to 15 minutes so that all sides are evenly browned. (I set my timer for 15 minutes and sprinkled more salt, pepper and tarragon on the under side after the first turning.)

(I also browned it under the broiler or grill for about 10 minutes to crispy the skin at the end of the cooking time.)

Serve warm.

See those sticky bits? Those are THE BEST.


Win your own copy!
The rules: If you’d like to win a copy of The Farm to Table French Phrasebook: Master the Culture, Language and Savoir Faire of French Cuisine, please leave a blog comment telling me your favorite foodie destination, then click on the Rafflecopter widget for other opportunities to enter. Not leaving a comment will disqualify your other entries. Please be aware that the publisher will only ship to US addresses. The winner will be randomly picked by Rafflecopter and will be notified by email and have 48 hours to respond. After 48 hours, another winner will be randomly chosen. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of The Farm to Table French Phrasebook: Master the Culture, Language and Savoir Faire of French Cuisine to review but no other compensation was offered or accepted. Links to the book are Amazon affiliate links.

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