Whenever I make this dish I am always amazed at the return on flavour the simple ingredients give. It’s proving to be a big hit with guests this month at our little French Brasserie, La Petite Bouchée, so I thought I’d share the recipe here.
Tarragon is one of the key ingredients of this dish, as the name suggests, but it’s an acquired taste and aniseed can overpower, so err on the side of caution when adding. One of the four fines herbes of French cuisine, tarragon lends itself perfectly to both fish and chicken dishes and packs a big punch when served in Sauce Bérnaise with a deliciously rare Entrecôte. Of course its also perfect when steeped in vinegar with the three other members of the family: Chervil, Parsley and Chives and makes it for an excellent base to any vinaigrette.
Breast is best
I like to cook the chicken slowly to lock in the flavours, you can cook it in the oven but I always use my trusty slow cooker which always does the trick. You can use thighs instead of chicken breasts, which of course are far more flavoursome, but this recipe needs a more gentle, lighter textured meat, so for this recipe, breast is best and we’re using mini fillets.
If you are going to use the slow cook method then I advise cooking on the lowest setting or you run the risk of the chicken disintegrating into the sauce.
- A large knob of butter
- 2 packs of mini chicken fillets
- 3 cloves of garlic
- A handful of very finely chopped shallots
- A handful of very finely chopped red onion
- 1pint of good chicken stock
- A glass of vermouth
- two sprigs of tarragon
- A glass of sherry
- 1 small tub of creme fraîche
- A pinch of sea salt and freshly milled black pepper
- A dusting of finely chopped parsley
- Melt the butter in a heavy based pan, (we’re using our slow cooker) brown the chicken breasts then remove and pop on a plate for later
- Add the red onion and shallots and sauté until softened before adding the chicken stock, tarragon and vermouth.
- Place the chicken breast gently pack into the flavoured stock and shut the lid. Put on the lowest setting for 4 hours and let it gently burble away. In the absence of a slow cooker, place a lid on the heavy based pan and put in a pre-heated oven at 150oc/Gas mark 2 for a couple of hours.
- In both instances remove the lid with an hour to go and pour in the sherry. Replace the lid and cook for a further hour.
- When the cooking time is done. Check the seasoning and adjust to taste. Remove the chicken breasts and place on a covered to retain the warmth.
- Whisk in the creme fraîche.
- Check the seasoning again.
- Place the chicken in the centre of the plate and spoon over the sauce. Serve with rice and salad
- lightly dust with finely chopped parsley
Make sure you serve lots of crusty bread with this dish because mopping up the juice is an absolute must.