Tarragon Chicken – a Recipe and a Cautionary Tale
For the last three years I’ve been trying to grow tarragon on my roof terrace. The first year, my seedlings dried out and died. The second year the snails got them! This year, I managed to grow a nice tarragon plant from seed…only to discover I’d got it wrong. The sort of tarragon you grow from seed is normally ‘Russian’. It’s not the real McCoy. While both French and Russian tarragon is used in cooking, Russian tarragon tends to have a bitter undertone in its flavouring, as opposed to the smooth and slightly sweeter taste of the French variety. Apparently, you can tell by the shape of the leaves (I can’t!) or by the taste (that DOES work for me). To grow French tarragon, you need to split an existing plant, or take a cutting and root it. Or, do as I did and go to your local farmer’s market on Herb day and BUY one! I am very happy to have paid my £1.50 for the pretty tarragon plant on the roof terrace. I just hope I can keep it alive now.
Anyway, now I have the real thing growing I’m rather enjoying using it. I’ve always made tarragon chicken with a cream based sauce but, I had a few tomatoes that needed using up tonight and I’ve been served tarragon chicken with tomato when I spent my holidays in France.
Here’s my very simple tomato and tarragon chicken recipe. If you want to make the cream based version, simply substitute a couple of tablespoons of double cream or creme fraiche for the tomatoes. But, this is healthier – and very, very good!
- 2 pieces Chicken I've used a chicken breast here, but this works well with any chicken joint
- 2 Tomatoes
- 4 sprigs Tarragon
- 125 ml Dry white wine
- 25 ml Pastis
- 1 clove Garlic
- 1 tablespoon Olive oil
- 1 Banana Shallot
- Skin the tomatoes by placing in a bowl of boiling water for about 1 minute. Cut into quarters and remove seed, then chop roughly
- Chop the shallot finely
- Crush the garlic clove or chop finely
- Heat the oil in a skillet and gently fry the shallot and garlic for a couple of minutes.
- Add the chicken pieces and seal so that the meat is just starting to brown
- Pull the leaves off two sprigs of tarragon and add to the chicken mixture, along with the wine and pastis (if using)
- Bring to a gentle simmer cover and cook for about 15 minutes, checking occasionally and adding a little water or wine if necessary
- Add the tomatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes
- Check the seasoning, add salt and pepper to taste
- Serve with a sprig of tarragon on each chicken piece