Friday, 25 April 2014

Tarragon Chicken

I have a confession.

Last night we had a guest for dinner, a senior colleague of the Husband's, and I didn't make dessert. But it gets worse. Not only did I not MAKE dessert, I bought it from the supermarket I hate the most, And it was delicious. So credit where credit's due, although it sticks in my throat. Tescos, your 'Finest' Sicilian Lemon Tart is pretty good.


The confession extends. Not only did I buy dessert but I threw seasonality, awareness of food miles and supporting the local economy to the wind, and bought tenderstem brocoli, asparagus and sugar snap peas all of which had been imported from the far ends of the earth, to go into a 'Spring' chicken casserole. Believe me, I feel badly about this - and my purse does too, because it was expensive compared to shopping in the market gardens and farm shops round here where unbelieveable amounts of veg can be picked up for less than a tenner. The problem as always is time. I was supposed to have more time once we'd moved, but what do you know? A new client, the geography and logistics of where we live, the unavoidable attraction of the beach, and all that extra time has been swallowed up just like that. And yesterday, having already established that I would have no time to make a dessert so would need to, gulp, buy one, factoring in everything else, the opportunity to visit either of my favourite veg shops was not going to materialise. It had to be the supermarket. 

Don't get me wrong, I've never said that I don't use the supermarkets - I do and am coming to see it as an inevitability of the life that we lead - but I really try to buy meat and veg, fish, cheese etc from local producers, and leave the supermarket for the boring stuff like cling film and dishwasher tablets.

So I'll beat myself with birch twigs a little longer and try harder next time, but in the meantime, the resulting chicken casserole (an amalgamation of a Leon recipe and one I found on the Good Food website) was pretty tasty, so I'll share it with you and you can make it with more ethically sourced and environmentally friendly veg...

Tarragon chicken

Serves 4 adults

1 tbsp rapeseed (or other) oil
2 rashers back bacon (or you could use the equivalent of pancetta etc)
500g skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large clove of garlic, crushed
400g baby potatoes
2 tsp dried tarragon (no fresh to be had)
450ml veg stock
freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp dijon mustard
120g sugar snap peas (trimmed if necessary)
200g long stemmed brocoli and asparagus spears (trimmed if necessary)
2 tbsp half fat creme fraiche

Heat the oil in a large heavy bottomed casserole or saucepan, add the bacon, fry for a couple of minutes, then add the chicken and brown all over before removing from the pan with a slotted spoon.

Add the onion. Fry gently for 5 minutes or so till its starting to soften then add the garlic and fry for a couple of minutes more. Concentrate. I got distracted and burnt the onions first time round so had to pretend all was fine, chop up another onion and carry on as if nothing was the matter - all while the senior colleague was asking me how we were settling in to our new home - cue fixed grin and breezy comments while inwardly swearing...

Once you've cooked the garlic for a couple of minutes, slosh in a little of the stock and scrape any bits up off the bottom of the pan. 

Return the chicken and bacon, to the pan, along with the potatoes. Sprinkle over the tarragon and a good grind of black pepper, pour in the rest of the stock, bring to the boil then simmer, lid on, for 25 minutes, until chicken and potatoes are cooked.

After 25 minutes, stir in the dijon mustard a teaspoon at a time checking the flavour as you go, then add the green veg and put the lid on the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes when the veg should be cooked but retain the necessary 'crunch' factor.

Stir in the creme fraiche, make sure it's all hot, and serve. Nothing more needed, although some good bread to mop up the juices is an idea.


  1. I don't think you should beat yourself up at ALL - I just bought my daughter's birthday cake (gasp) and yes it would REALLY good - and I was less rushed and enjoyed the birthday tea for the first time in years!!!! the tarragon chicken sounds SO good - isn't tarragon the best herb!

    1. :-) thanks Mary! I do love tarragon - would have liked to have used fresh, but the dried was surprisingly effective.

  2. That sounds delicious! Don't feel too guilty about the pudd, we all have to rely on supermarkets sometimes! Last week I bought an American Blueberry cheesecake from sainsburies, I could have eaten the lot in one sitting! :D

    1. Thanks Emma - I don't feel that bad really, but you probably know where I'm c oming from :-)

  3. This really sounds lovely. Tarragon always makes me think of spring because it's one of the first herbs that pops up in my garden (well, in what I laughingly call my greenhouse). I haven't worried about buying desserts for many years, since I told some French people that I made my own desserts and they fell about laughing at the eccentric Englishman who dared to think he could do better than a professional who makes and sells them for a living.

    1. Tarragon is such a beautiful flavour isn't it - for a long time, my tarragon came from a cutting that originally came from France, and it always makes me feel a little bit more exotic than I fear I actually am when I use it. Your comment about the French attitude to dessert making rings so true - whenever I stay with my French friends it's either yoghurt, fromage blanc and/or fruit or a beautiful, bought flan...


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