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Tarragon Chicken

by . Featured in KITCHEN, and Nigella Quick Collection
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Introduction

This is a quick-time version of the classic French poulet a l'estragon (though you could speed it up further by bashing out the chicken breast or by using a turkey escalope in its place, which would make this dish pleasingly alliterative) and is an instant reminder of the comforts of old-school cooking. Tender chicken (it's the poaching early on that sees to this), aromatically fresh and insistently herbal tarragon, a generous splosh of vermouth, all rounded off by rich, pale cream: this has the nostalgic, yet robust, charm of that French bistro of fond memory or happy imaginings.

Eat with a tumbled mixture of fine beans and asparagus tips along with steamed baby new potatoes or, hard to beat for me, some white basmati rice forked through with a soupcon of butter and freshly ground white pepper.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

This is a quick-time version of the classic French poulet a l'estragon (though you could speed it up further by bashing out the chicken breast or by using a turkey escalope in its place, which would make this dish pleasingly alliterative) and is an instant reminder of the comforts of old-school cooking. Tender chicken (it's the poaching early on that sees to this), aromatically fresh and insistently herbal tarragon, a generous splosh of vermouth, all rounded off by rich, pale cream: this has the nostalgic, yet robust, charm of that French bistro of fond memory or happy imaginings.

Eat with a tumbled mixture of fine beans and asparagus tips along with steamed baby new potatoes or, hard to beat for me, some white basmati rice forked through with a soupcon of butter and freshly ground white pepper.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

Image of Nigella's Tarragon Chicken
Photo by Lis Parsons

Ingredients

Serves: 2

Metric Cups
  • 2 teaspoons garlic infused olive oil
  • 2 fat or 4 skinny spring onions (finely sliced)
  • ½ teaspoon freeze-dried tarragon
  • 2 chicken breast fillets (skinless and boneless)
  • 80 millilitres vermouth or white wine
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt flakes or ¼ teaspoon pouring salt
  • 60 millilitres double cream
  • freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon plus a pinch more for sprinkling
  • 2 teaspoons garlic flavored oil
  • 2 fat or 4 skinny scallions (finely sliced)
  • ½ teaspoon freeze-dried tarragon
  • 2 chicken breast cutlets (skinless and boneless)
  • ⅓ cup vermouth or white wine
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt or ¼ teaspoon pouring salt
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon plus a pinch more for sprinkling

Method

  1. Heat the garlic oil in a frying pan or casserole that has a lid and in which the chicken breasts will fit pretty snugly. Add the spring onions, stir, then sprinkle in the freeze-dried tarragon, stir again and cook them in the garlic oil for a minute, stirring some more as they cook.
  2. Put the chicken fillets into the pan, curved side down, and cook for 5 minutes. If the spring onions start to burn, scrape them from the pan and let them sit on the chicken pieces.
  3. Turn over the breasts, and add the vermouth (or white wine). Let the vermouth bubble up, then add the salt. Put the lid on, turn the heat down low and leave it to simmer gently for 10 minutes. Check the chicken is cooked through by making a small cut into the thickest part and ensuring the juices run clear - if not, simmer for a few minutes longer and check again.
  4. Remove the chicken breasts to warmed plates. Bring the remaining liquid to a boil, add the cream and stir well, then sprinkle in the fresh tarragon, stir again and give a good grind of white pepper.
  5. Pour the sauce over the chicken breasts, and give a final scattering of tarragon to serve.
  1. Heat the garlic oil in a frying pan or casserole that has a lid and in which the chicken breasts will fit pretty snugly. Add the scallions, stir, then sprinkle in the freeze-dried tarragon, stir again and cook them in the garlic oil for a minute, stirring some more as they cook.
  2. Put the chicken fillets into the pan, curved side down, and cook for 5 minutes. If the scallions start to burn, scrape them from the pan and let them sit on the chicken pieces.
  3. Turn over the breasts, and add the vermouth (or white wine). Let the vermouth bubble up, then add the salt. Put the lid on, turn the heat down low and leave it to simmer gently for 10 minutes. Check the chicken is cooked through by making a small cut into the thickest part and ensuring the juices run clear - if not, simmer for a few minutes longer and check again.
  4. Remove the chicken breasts to warmed plates. Bring the remaining liquid to a boil, add the cream and stir well, then sprinkle in the fresh tarragon, stir again and give a good grind of white pepper.
  5. Pour the sauce over the chicken breasts, and give a final scattering of tarragon to serve.

Additional Information

NOTE:
If you can't get fresh tarragon, do not despair: just double the freeze-dried tarragon at the start and add some freshly chopped parsley at the end.

NOTE:
If you can't get fresh tarragon, do not despair: just double the freeze-dried tarragon at the start and add some freshly chopped parsley at the end.

Tell us what you think

What 5 Others have said

  • I have been making this for years and the whole family loves it. The sauce over rice is delicious! Such a rewarding meal for such little effort.

    Posted by Fi13 on 21st May 2020
  • I prepared it tonight and it was delicious! For some strange reason I couldn’t find green onions so I used leek instead and it is equally good so there it is, in case there’s shortage due to the virus.

    Posted by Cat_Gamble on 12th May 2020
  • Quick and delicious! Sadly couldn't get fresh tarragon due to lockdown - looking forward to trying that.

    Posted by JackBon on 6th May 2020
  • Hi Nigella, I made this the 1st time tonight, definitely not the last time! Everyone loved it and so quick and easy to make. Thank you so much ! X

    Posted by smallmebigworld on 6th May 2020
  • This is in constant rotation at our house. My kids love it! I serve it with green beans and cauliflower pilaf, and it is perfect! The flavors of the cream, vermouth, and tarragon are really lovely. It's also really easy to make. A complete winner!

    Posted by joshv41680 on 6th May 2020
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