Monday, November 17, 2014

The New American Herbal: Braised Chicken with Tarragon

Braised Chicken with Tarragon, from The New American Herbal

I'm almost embarrassed to admit it, given how many magazines these days are featuring tarragon...I've never tasted it!  When did Tarragon become the little black dress of the culinary world and how did I miss it?

I've decided to make the leap and make my first recipe using Tarragon:  Braised Chicken with Tarragon from The New American Herbal.

First, a taste test.  In case I'm not the last person in America to try it...spoiler alert: Tarragon has exactly the same flavor as Good & Plenty candies!  Interesting.  Chicken isn't the first pairing that comes to mind when I think of Good & Plenty, and I'm very intrigued as to how this will all come together.

This recipe is directly from The New American Herbal, page 340.  The comments, in purple (they're noted with "L&L"), and photos are all from Lavende & Lemonade.


Serves 4-6

Braising adds color and flavor to meats or vegetables while keeping flavorful juices sealed in.  This chicken dish takes advantage of the similar anise flavors of tarragon and fennel and combines them with the earthy taste of celery root, which also thickens the sauce.  Serve with rice or couscous.

1 whole chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds), cut up
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 shallots, or 1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 medium celery root, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 medium fennel bulb, coarsely chopped
4 sprigs fresh tarragon, leaves only, chopped, plus more for garnish
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 to 3 cups chicken stock
Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 325F.

Rinse the chicken, dry it thoroughly, and salt it lightly.  

(L&L):  I've been hearing that rinsing poultry is not a great idea, but I've gone ahead and followed the instructions here and rinsed it.  I bought a whole chicken and cut it myself...and would recommend buying the chicken already cut because this recipe has no need for the chest or gizzards.  Since I had them - waste not and want not - I went ahead and turned them into Chicken Noodle Soup.

Over a high flame, heat the olive oil and butter in a 3-4 quart lidded pan with a heavy bottom.  Cook the chicken pieces in batches, skin side down, until they are browned, 3 to 4 minutes on each side.  Transfer the chicken pieces to a dish.

(L&L):  Let me save you the time - and dirty dishes - and explain that it is best to use an oven-safe dutch oven.   

Using the oil in the pan, saute the shallots or onion for several minutes until translucent.  Add the celery root, fennel, and tarragon and saute for a few minutes more until they are somewhat softened.

(L&L):   I searched high and low, but celery root was nowhere to be found in my area.  I substituted in celery which is obviously very different, but the results were great despite my swap.

Add the wine and let the alcohol bubble away for a few minutes.  Place the browned chicken on top of the vegetables and add the chicken stock, and lemon zest and juice.  The liquid should come halfway up the chicken, or three-quarters, but not cover it.  Bring to a boil on the stove.  

Cut a circle of parchment paper and place it just lightly touching the chicken.  Then put the lid and bake the chicken in the oven for 1 hour, making sure every once in awhile that the liquid is simmering busily but not boiling away.  Baste every 20 minutes or so and taste for salt.

(L&L): I'm not familiar with the parchment method and wasn't quite sure how to do it or what the reasoning is behind it...so I skipped it.  

Serve the chicken pieces on a platter surrounded by the braised vegetables and garnish with additional chopped tarragon and a squeeze of lemon.


(L&L): As it turns out, tarragon and chicken work beautifully together!  This dish is packed with autumn flavors and goes perfectly with a crusty loaf of bread on a crisp evening.

Check out my full review of The New American Herbal.

Disclaimer:  I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.


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