Low-Calorie Tarragon Chicken for the 5:2 Diet and Pinot Gris:
Today I got a craving for Tarragon Chicken. One of the challenges with any diet, including the 5:2 diet, is that weird psychology that kicks in and makes you really want what you shouldn’t be eating. I cared for my diabetic mother for some time and I know that she had a constant yearning for chocolate – which she excused by telling me that she was really just trying to emulate Judi Dench in Chocolat. And, I do understand, albeit in a lesser way, on a 5:2 diet fast day while I don’t crave chocolate, I do really want something rich and creamy…and if possible a glass of wine too.
Now, I avoid the wine. It’s not the calories in wine, it’s the fact that any alcohol has a tendency to slow your metabolic rate. And, for me having two days a week when I avoid drinking alcohol is no bad thing. But…rich-tasting creamy sauces? Well, if I can get away with it…why not. I love tarragon too, and my plants did very well this summer, so I had plenty of tarragon in the freezer. So, why not try re-inventing tarragon chicken. Traditionally I would have made this dish with a lot of butter and double cream. By cutting out most of the oil and fat, it’s perfectly possible to make a low-calorie version that comes in under 300 calories.
A delicious, creamy low-calorie tarragon chicken recipe
- 200 g Raw skinless chicken Cut into 2cm cubes. Breast is lowest in calories, but can be dry treated this way. I've used thigh meat here
- 100 ml Bouillon or chicken stock
- 100 ml Dry white wine Extra bouillon or stock can replace the wine
- 1 Medium Onion Peeled and finely chopped
- 2 cloves Garlic Peeled and finely chopped
- 30 ml Low-fat creme fraiche
- 3-4 Sprigs fresh tarragon Or dried or frozen if fresh is not available
- 6 Small New potatoes scrubbed and halved
- 2 Bay leaves
- 2-3 shots 1-cal oil Or use a little butter or olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon Cornflour
- 50 g Peas
- Spray a heavy based pan with 1cal and gently soften the onion for 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic for the last 2 minutes then remove and set to one side
- Brown the chicken pieces in the same pan till the edges just start to caramelise
- Return the onion and garlic mix to the pan and top up with the stock and wine. Add in most of the tarragon and the bay leaves, reserving one sprig of tarragon for garnish and add in the new potatoes
- Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer and cook on the hob for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft
- Remove the meat and potatoes from the pan and set to one side, keeping warm. Reduce the liquid down by a third
- Stir through the creme fraiche and add in the cornflour mixed with a little cold water. Stir until the mixture thickens slightly
Return the meat and potatoes to the pan and heat through gently. Cook the peas for 2-3 minutes in boiling water, then add to the pan.
Serve garnished with the remaining tarragon sprigs if available
In fact, I made enough of this 5:2 diet Tarragon Chicken to freeze one serving for later. It freezes quite well (although like all dishes with cream or creme fraiche, it is better to freeze the dish before you add the cream) and you can reheat it gently too. So, I managed to enjoy one helping with wine. I’d been given a bottle of Dopff & Irion Pinot Gris to review and I was looking for something that might work well as a pairing. And, at least for me, it did work. Pinot Gris is a grape which produced in Italy is known as Pinot Grigio and is considerably lighter. The wine I was tasting from Alsace was really quite fruity, slightly sweet and at 13% not particularly light. Robust enough to stand up to the tarragon in my dish – and to cut through the creamy sauce. But it still had lovely citrus and smokey notes. I enjoyed my pairing with a light, fresh but creamy tarragon chicken, but I suspect it might work well with a seafood pasta dish or even with something like fish pie.
I’ve tasted a few wines from Dopff & Irin now, a vineyard in Alsace. You may well find them on Restaurant wine lists and they are well worth trying – rather more full-bodied than their German cousins and very easy to drink.
As a 5:2 Diet Recipe, this works rather well. at around 280 calories per serving. If you are using frozen tarragon then it’s worth adding a green vegetable for a prettier plateful of food. I ate this creamy tarragon chicken on my fast day with peas and a rocket salad and I’d recommend adding a strong flavoured green vegetable – spinach, broccoli or asparagus would all work very well.
I tend to only eat two meals on a fast day, so allowing myself 300 calories for my main meal is perfectly reasonable. If your 5:2 diet regime involves three meals, try making this dish with chicken breast instead of chicken thigh and omitting the wine. That way this dish will be around 225 calories per portion.