When Steve and I were graduate students, we ate out too much (and we ordered in too much). One of our favorite places was a Brazilian restaurant. My favorite dish there was chicken in a creamy sauce flavored with tarragon. I ate a lot of it. Then they closed. I felt abandoned and betrayed.
Years later, in the cookbook of a restaurant that Steve and I had been to a time or two in Manhattan, I found a recipe for poulet à l’estragon, that is, tarragon chicken. It is good, and I may post it here yet, but it was not the dish I remembered with its thick creamy sauce.
Here is my version of what I remember. It does not actually resemble my graduate school chicken dish as much as I’d like, but it works and is suitable for a dinner party. It takes a little trouble, but not really all that much.
Serve with a salad and rice or some sort of pasta. You might also drink a glass or so of the wine that you used in the sauce.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 boneless chicken breasts (halves), with or without skin
- 1 small onion, chopped (or several shallots)
- 1 cup sour cream
- ½ cup dry white wine or sherry
- 1 cup chicken stock (preferably homemade)
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2-3 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves, finely chopped (or about 4 teaspoons dry)
- ¼ cup cold milk, cream, or water
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- salt and black pepper to taste
- more tarragon or Italian parsley (chopped) for garnish (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Heat olive oil in an oven-proof skillet large enough to hold four chicken breasts.
- When the oil is hot, add the chicken breasts and brown well on all sides. Season with salt and pepper. If the skillet is smallish, work in batches.
- When the chicken is browned, remove from the skillet. Add the chopped onion and allow to soften and become translucent.
- Combine all other ingredients and mix well.
- Once the onions have become translucent, add the wet mixture and stir into the onions. Remove from the heat.
- Add the chicken breasts to the pan and turn to coat in the sauce.
- Bake chicken in the middle of the oven for 35 minutes.
- When the chicken is done, remove from oven. Remove the chicken breasts and set aside. Put the skillet back on medium heat. Dissolve the cornstarch in the milk and stir into the sauce. Bring to boil and keep at a boil for another minute or so.
- When the sauce easily coats the back of a spoon, it is ready. Add the chicken back in and serve, perhaps with a garnish of chopped fresh tarragon or Italian parsley.