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Fresh tarragon flavors classic chicken

Tarragon, a leafy green herb widely used in French cuisine, pairs especially well with chicken. (Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS)

Dill was the darling of my latest column in the newspaper’s weekly food section.

In concert with its relatives cilantro and parsley, dill not only headlined a handful of herbaceous recipes. It made a strong case for growing it and other pungent herbs in the home garden, or even just planters handy to the kitchen.

Another one to cultivate is tarragon. Although unrelated to dill, tarragon shares the former’s affinity for fish and seafood, poultry and eggs and cream sauces and vinaigrettes. And like dill, it’s faintly licoricey, recalling or complementing fennel in a variety of dishes. A staple of French cuisine, tarragon is essential in the blends “fines herbes” and “herbes de Provence.”

Tarragon also delivers a dose of quercetin, an antioxidant that helps to fight cancer. It’s true that large amounts of tarragon can be overwhelming, which is why a recipe with tarragon in the title likely only contains a couple of tablespoons.

Try this classic French method for braised chicken, courtesy of Tribune News Service.

Chicken Tarragon

Tribune News Service photo

3-pound frying chicken, cut in quarters

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

1 tablespoons oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

4 shallots, peeled and finely chopped

1/2 cup white wine

2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped or 2 tablespoons dried

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Melt the butter and oil in a covered skillet large enough to hold all the chicken pieces. When butter is hot, add chicken pieces skin side down and brown. Turn them over and brown other side. This will take about 10 minutes. Salt and pepper them well. If you don’t have a large enough skillet, after browning pieces place them in a covered Dutch oven or casserole and continue cooking.

Add the shallots. Lower heat, cover pan, and simmer very, very slowly for 15 to 18 minutes, or 20 minutes if chickens are on the large side.

Remove cover, increase heat slightly, and add the white wine, tarragon, and parsley, scraping up any bits that have stuck to bottom of pan. Turn chicken pieces again and cook briskly for 3 or 4 minutes to reduce sauce a little.

Serve with roasted tiny new potatoes.

Makes 2 to 3 servings.