There are two things which make this taste amazing: a good quality chicken and fresh tarragon. Please seek out free-range organic chicken if you can and do not replace the fresh herb with dried. This dish absolutely requires fresh tarragon, an iconic French ingredient. If you cannot find any, replace the tarragon with fresh parsley and enjoy anyway. This also uses a standard French cooking technique, called a sauté so no matter which herb you use you will learn something and have an enjoyable meal. Potatoes make a nice accompaniment, either steamed, boiled or mashed.

Tarragon Cream Chicken

Poulet à l’estragon et à la crème

Serves 4-6

1 whole chicken, cut into pieces

1 tbsp sunflower oil

1 tbsp unsalted butter

1 large shallot or 1 small onion, chopped

1 small sprig thyme

2-3 sprigs fresh parsley

1 bunch fresh tarragon

3-4 tbsp crème fraiche

Salt and pepper

In a sauté pan large enough to hold all the pieces in a single layer, melt the butter and oil, then add the chicken pieces skin-side down. Do not crowd the pan; you may need to work in batches to make sure there is enough room. Cook the chicken until golden brown on both sides, taking care not to burn. Transfer the pieces to a plate, season well with salt. If you’re working in batches, continue browning. If there is a lot of fat in the pan, remove some with a spoon.

Add the shallot or onion to the pan and cook for a minute or so, just until it begins to brown. Return the chicken to the pan and add about 180 ml (3/4 cup) water (or enough to cover halfway). 

Tie the thyme, parsley and about 1/3 of the tarragon in a bunch with kitchen twine. Add to the pan. Cover and simmer gently until the chicken is cooked through, 35-45 minutes.

Meanwhile, strip the leaves from the remaining tarragon sprigs, chop finely and set aside. Add the stems to the cooking chicken.

When the chicken is cooked through, transfer the pieces to a heatproof serving dish. Remove the herb bundle from the pan and discard.

Raise the heat and cook until the sauce is reduced by about two-thirds. Taste and adjust seasoning. Continue reducing if necessary. 

Juat before serving, stir in the crème fraiche and chopped tarragon. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.

photo by Martin Brigdale © Ryland Peters & Small, from Bistro by Laura Washburn Hutton, published by Ryland Peters & Small

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