Retro Classics: Tarragon Chicken

Sometimes, people laugh off the classics as retro, old fashioned, kitsch. While it can be true that a dish can be over used, there is no denying that a classic becomes that for a reason. One of my favorite classic dinners is tarragon chicken. Simple and straightforward, in reality, perfecting this retro dish can be tricky. Browning the chicken can ruin the aesthetic of the pale creamy sauce, not that its the end of the world!

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Still, when you marry the simple flavors of cream and tarragon, it just seems to work. Maybe that is why for so many years, tarragon chicken was the height of sophistication and style on menus and at dinner parties. I can’t resist it! This recipe is easily multiplied for a crowd.

Tarragon Chicken

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Serves 4:

  • 4 chicken breasts (free range is best)
  • Milk (to tenderize the chicken)
  • Knob of butter
  • 1 tbsp freshly chopped tarragon
  • 75ml chicken stock
  • 75ml cream

To Thicken:

Roux made from equal quantities melted butter and flour. This can be made in a large batch and stored in the fridge of freezer until needed.

  1. Cover the chicken breasts in milk allow to soak for 1 hour. The lactic acid in the milk tenderizes the chicken.
  2. Remove the chicken from the milk, pat dry with paper towel and season each with salt and pepper.
  3. Melt the butter in a frying pan over a low heat. You want it to foam but do not let it brown as that will color the sauce.
  4. Add the chicken breasts and cook slowly over a low heat, being careful not to brown. Add a sprig of tarragon to the pan and cover to keep the moisture in.
  5. Cook for 6-8 mins (depending on size of the breasts), until the chicken is just cooked. Remove to a plate and allow to rest.
  6. Remove the sprig tarragon from the pan and whisk in the cream and stock. Add the freshly chopped tarragon and bring to the boil.
  7. Crumble or grate a little roux into the pan while the sauce is boiling. Cook until thickened to your liking. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  8. When you are happy with the sauce, add the chicken back into the pan along with any juice on the plate. Coat with the sauce. Serve immediately.
  9. This is delicous over rice or mashed potato with a side of green vegetables.

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