Cooking with the Tarragon Plant
Tarragon Vinegar Chicken
The tarragon plant originated in central Asia and was brought to Europe in the middle ages during the crusades. There are many varieties, but the two most commonly sold are:
French tarragon - Strongly flavored with a smell similar to licorice.
Russian tarragon - Less aromatic and more bitter than French tarragon.
The tarragon plant grows well in hot, dry climates and you can try growing it in a pot, perhaps on a sunny balcony. Russian tarragon can be grown from seeds, but French tarragon is propagated by dividing the plant itself.
Tarragon is one of the group of herbs known in France as Fines Herbes. The other herbs in this catagory are
chives, chervil, and parsley. When a recipe calls for fines herbes you should use fresh herbs, not
dried, and cut them up finely with pair of scissors, rather than chopping them.
Tarragon is also sometimes included in mixtures of Herbs
de Provence and might be included in a boquet garni (a bundle of herbs, tied together, added to a recipe during cooking and then removed at serving time).
Here is a recipe for chicken cooked in tarragon vinegar. You can make your own tarragon vinegar recipe by placing several branches of fresh tarragon in a liter of white wine vinegar and letting it infuse for several months. The tarragon vinegar I buy here in France has branches of tarragon floating in it.