Tarragon Chicken and Sweet Pea Couscous

Tarragon Chicken wtih Sweet Pea Couscous

Nigella Lawson calls this French bistro food. I call it extraordinarily delicious!

The recipe is built around tarragon, it’s mild and delicate flavor is the star of the show. Tarragon is often described as being licorice or anise flavored and while the aroma is similar it has a distinct flavor all its own with hints of sweetness and pepper. I don’t know of any substitute for it.

Chicken breasts are poached in your choice of white wine, vermouth or chicken broth with tarragon and garlic, then half & half or heavy cream is whisked in with a dab of dijon mustard. Poaching renders the chicken incredibly juicy and succulent.

The sauce sounds like it might be heavy and yet it’s not. It has a light feel to it that is rich and creamy with a glimmer of tarragon, garlic and mustard shining through. A combo of dried and fresh tarragon is used, but if you don’t have dried tarragon on hand and don’t want to buy both – go with the fresh.

Truth be told, I don’t even know what vermouth is! I used chicken broth for mine and imagine white wine would be even better. If that’s possible. My family eagerly ate this up; every last drop of the rich and creamy sauce was wiped clean, from plates, platters and pans: not once, but twice in the past few weeks!

Tarragon Chicken with Sweet Pea Couscous

Tarragon Chicken w/ Sweet Pea Couscous
(adapted from Nigella Lawson)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 chicken breast fillets, skinless and boneless
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried tarragon or 2 teaspoons fresh, chopped
1/2 cup white wine, vermouth or chicken broth
3/4 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
3/4 cup half & half
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped, plus a pinch more to garnish

1. In a large deep sided frying pan with a lid heat the olive over medium heat, sprinkle dried tarragon in oil and chicken breast, cook for five minutes without moving them. Turn them over, add a touch of olive oil to the middle of the pan and quickly saute garlic until fragrant. Add white wine, vermouth or chicken broth and salt, put the lid on and simmer slowly for ten minutes.

2. Check the chicken is cooked with a meat thermometer 165 -174 degrees F. or make a small cut into the thickest part, the juices should run clear – if not, simmer a few minutes longer and check again.

3.Remove the chicken breasts to warmed plates. Bring the remaining liquid to a boil, whisk in mustard then half & half, fresh tarragon, and a couple grinds or pinches of black pepper. Simmer slowly for three to four minutes.

4. Pour the sauce over the chicken breasts, and garnish with fresh tarragon, serve over sweet pea couscous*.

*Combine cooked whole-grain couscous with lightly steamed peas. No other flavoring is needed as the tarragon sauce will season it.

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