Make this tarragon chicken recipe when you can find fresh sprigs of this flavorful herb.
Tarragon is only good when it is fresh, and since it is the defining flavor of this dish, there really is no substitute. Instead, I would recommend another recipe that cooks in a similar fashion but does not depend on this herb: Chicken Fricassee Recipe.
One can almost always find this herb at the grocery store here in France, but it may be a little more difficult to find in your part of the world. Like most any herb it should be bought as fresh as possible and used quickly before it collapses. One of the things that makes tarragon unique is that its light licorice and pepper flavor stands up through cooking.
For this tarragon chicken recipe, just the leaves are used and not the stems, which can be tough. Remove the leaves by simply running your pinched fingers down the stem from the top - the leaves will fall off. Don't chop the leaves which can crush them, rather use a pair of scissors to snip them into smaller pieces. Snipping herbs is often the best way to go.
Cluck, Cluck, cluck
As with all the chicken recipes on this site, I heartily encourage you to buy the highest quality chicken you can afford, even if that means paying twice the price and eating poultry less often. The difference in flavor is worth the difference in price, and the difference to the environment and your health is priceless. Go happy chickens!
You can substitute heavy whipping cream or half and half for the crème fraîche in this tarragon chicken recipe. This product is becoming easier to find outside of France, but I realize not everyone has it on hand.
3/4 cup crème fraîche (or whipping cream or half and half)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
In a large heavy skillet or ideally a Dutch oven, heat the butter and olive oil on medium heat until the butter melts. Add the chicken pieces and cook until browned on all sides.
Meanwhile, remove all of the leaves from the tarragon sprigs. Place half of the leaves and the white wine in a small saucepan and boil on medium heat until the liquid is reduced by half - about five minutes.
When the chicken is browned all over sprinkle with salt to flavor, then sprinkle with the flour and stir to coat evenly. Add the reduced wine mixture and the chicken stock to the chicken and stir to combine. Put on low heat, cover and cook for one hour.
Snip the rest of the tarragon leaves into small pieces and combine with the crème fraîche or cream and the lemon juice. About five minutes before serving, stir this mixture into the chicken and warm through.
Serve with rice, couscous, or pasta (there is quite a bit of sauce).
Tarragon is one of the four French fines herbes. Along with parsley, chervil and chives these herbs get special mention in French cuisine and are always added at the end of cooking when combined in this classic mixture.
If you happen to be swimming in tarragon, you might like to try making your own tarragon vinegar. You can then use the vinegar to flavor salads, sauces and just about anything: Tarragon Vinegar.
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