Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tarragon Chicken

I've been carrying this recipe around in my bag for a couple of months. Originally photocopied from an old issue of Saveur magazine, I finally decided that the sudden cold snap outside warranted steaming up the windows in the house and warming the air with the smell of browning chicken. It's been an entire season of fresh fruit and minimal cooking between now the last time I deglazed anything and made a reduced sauce with rich stock, so I was filled with glee when I heard the sizzle of the wine hitting the hot skillet.

It doesn't get more french than tarragon and a sauce with butter. Be sure to let your chicken skin brown- I left it entirely alone for the first 5 minutes- and don't skimp on the tarragon, which can be too subtle in small doses.

Tarragon Chicken
(from the Ritz-Escoffier cooking school in Paris, via Saveur magazine)

1 T olive oil
3 T butter
1 3 ½ lb chicken, cut into 8 pieces
salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 stems fresh tarragon
¼ cup white wine
1 cup rich veal, beef or chicken stock

Heat the oil and 2 T of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and cook, skin side down, until well browned, about 5 minutes. Turn the chicken and add 4 stems of the tarragon. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook until juices run clear when pierced with a knife, 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, blanch 2 stems of the tarragon in a pot of boiling water over high heat for 5 seconds; drain and set aside. Chop the leaves (discarding the stalks) from the remaining 2 stems of the tarragon and set aside.

Transfer the chicken to a platter, discarding tarragon, and keep warm in an oven set on lowest temperature. Pour off the fat, then return skillet to medium-high heat. Add the wine and cook, scraping browned bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet, for 1 minute. Add the stock and reduce by half, about 5 minutes. Strain the sauce into a small bowl, then return the sauce to the skillet over medium heat. Stir in the remaining 1 T butter and reserved chopped tarragon.

Add the chicken and any accumulated juices to the skillet and baste with sauce. Serve garnished with blanched tarragon.

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