Go directly to recipe
It has gotten cold here this week but my herb garden is still valiantly struggling to be productive. It has also been windy which means that cooking (and posting to my blog) can be challenging. When it's windy we have power outages; sometimes 5 minutes, somtimes 5 hours; never at a convenient time (like when I am out in the garden….or sleeping) Last night, I had two saucepans on the stove with onions just starting to cook: one for the pumpkin soup, one for the sauteed carrots. The water for the gnocchi was just starting to get hot. The ham, cheese and fresh sage were ready for the Saltimbocca. The electricity went out. I have an electric (ceramic) cooktop. We lit more candles and the kerosene lamps, poured a glass of wine and looked at each other for a bit, waiting to see if it was a flicker or more permanent. Nothing happened so we decided to get on with dinner. Mon mari got the gas barbecue out of storage. The carrots and onions were dumped into a foil pan and put on the grill. I found some pate in the pantry to replace the soup as our starter. We'd skip the gnocchi and grill the veal. The new plan was being executed nicely when the power came back. Back to the original with one minor variation: The Saltimbocca was made with char-grilled veal – very tasty, I might add….might be a permanent change!
On to this weeks recipe for Weekend Herb Blogging being hosted by Kalyn's Kitchen (I didn't forget, just wandered off for a bit). Two things happened earlier in the week that resulted in this week's recipe: my parsley and tarragon both looked so incredibly good I had to find something worthy and, I finally succumbed to my inner shopper and bought this chicken pot that I have been coveting for years. Isn't it pretty? Much prettier than the chicken (which is why there is a picture of the pot and not the chicken – the chicken was incredibly good, just kind of bland looking….besides, I was too hungry to fuss with the camera….use your imagination).
Tarragon has a strong, anise flavor that goes very well with fish and chicken and is a common herb in French cooking. Russian tarragon is very easy to grow, even from seed, but, in my opinion, is worthless other than as filler in the herb garden. It is almost tasteless. I buy the French tarragon plants in the supermarket rather than the nursery, sold as 'fresh herbs for cooking'. I replant them every spring as they are not particularly hardy but the flavor is wonderful.
Braised Chicken with Tarragon Cream Time: 2 hours
1 whole chicken
3 – 4 sprigs fresh French tarragon substitute 2 tbs dried
1 tbs butter
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup creme fraiche or double cream
1 tbs snipped fresh parsley
1 tbs fresh or dried French tarragon
Heat butter in pot with a tight-fitting lid that is big enough to hold the whole chicken. Put the sprigs of tarragon inside the chicken. When the butter is hot, brown the chicken on all sides. This should take about 10 minutes. Then add the chicken stock and the white wine. Cover, turn the heat to low and let braise on top of the stove for at least an 1 1/2 hours. I used a rather tough old bird and let it stew for over 2 hours. When the chicken is very done, remove it from the pot and keep warm. Scrape any bits off the bottom of the pan and pour the sauce into a small pan. Boil sauce over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/2 cup. Turn heat to low and add the herbs. Simmer another minute or two to steep. Add the cream or creme fraiche, heat through, then cover and keep warm. Carve the chicken, discarding the skin, and arrange on a platter. Pour some sauce over and serve, remaining sauce on the side.
Many thanks to Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen for, once again, hosting Weekend Herb Blogging. For the recap of all of the Herby posts check out her blog.