I’ve got to confess. I’m a late comer to tarragon. Just didn’t like it at all when I was younger. I don’t know what the reason was, maybe too much in a béarnaise sauce…that can taste like soapy grass if it happens.
But, thankfully, taste buds do change as you grow more wonderful in years and I’m all over the tarragon thing now. I’ve had great luck growing it this past year, and thanks to the fact that we didn’t have zero degree nights, my plants are coming back with a vengeance.
I was searching for something divine to do for dinner. We were busy this weekend and didn’t do the major cook fest that we normally do, so I was knee deep in my cookbooks when I happened upon one in Patricia Wells’ At Home in Provence. This is a wonderful cookbook, with lots of fun things to try…the pantry section alone will keep you busy for weeks.
For our dinner, I decided to do Chicken with Tarragon and Sherry Vinegar. Chicken in Vinegar is a classic French presentation that I love and posted about last month . This version browns the chicken thighs in butter and olive oil, then whole garlic, shallots, sweet yellow onions are cooked slowly til they melt and become involved with a mustardy cream and fresh tarragon sauce that is such an elegant touch you immediately want to put your face in your food and lick the plate clean.
Chicken with Tarragon and Sherry Vinegar
Adapted from Patricia Wells' At Home in Provence
1 medium sweet yellow onion, peeled
4-5 chicken thighs
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper tot taste
A couple of good swirls extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp butter
2 shallots, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
½ head garlic, peeled and left whole
Bouquet garni…She loves these things and they work so well. This one uses a couple of bay leaves, couple of sprigs of fresh tarragon, rosemary, celery leaves and Italian parsley all tied up with a piece of twine
3 tbsp sherry wine vinegar
1 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp sun dried tomato paste
A blop of Dijon mustard
Fresh tarragon leaves, snipped
2 tbsp crème fraiche
Slice onion in half lengthwise. Place each half cut side down and slice very thin. Set aside.
Liberally season chicken with salt and pepper. In large cast iron skillet, combine oil and butter over high heat. When hot, add the chicken skin side down and cook til even golden color on one side. Turn chicken and brown five minutes on the other side til golden brown. Keep heat regulated so skin doesn’t scorch.
When all browned, remove to platter.
Pour off and discard all but about a tablespoon of fat from skillet. Add the onions, shallots, garlic and bouquet garni and season lightly with salt. Sweat veggies by cooking over low heat without coloring for about five minutes. Add the chicken pieces, pour about 1- 1/2 tbsp sherry vinegar over chicken and cover. Cook very gently over low heat stirring to make sure they don’t burn until chicken is cooked through about 25 minutes. Remove and discard the bouquet garni. Transfer chicken to platter and cover with foil keep warm in low oven.
Leave veggies in the pan. Over moderate heat slowly add the remaining 1-1/2 tbsp vinegar, scraping up any bits than stick to the bottom of the skillet. Add the chicken stock, sun dried tomato paste, mustard and stir to blend. Increase heat to high and bring to boil, cook until sauce is thick and glossy , at the most, seven minutes.
Off the heat stir in crème fraiche and stir to blend.
Spoon sauce and veggies over chicken and sprinkle with tarragon. Serve with rice if you like.