January 20, 2010

Tastes Like Home


One of my all-time favorite dishes is Chicken Tarragon. My mom made this a lot as I was growing up, and whenever my birthday would roll around, this is what I'd ALWAYS request. It's basically chicken breasts in a sauce with white wine, shallots, and cream. YUM. My mom would crack open her thick, blue New York Times cookbook and soon the kitchen would be warm and welcoming with that trademark aroma of my favorite dish. I love this cookbook so much that I tracked down copies on Ebay for both my sister and me years ago. As soon as my copy arrived, I scrambled to the index and looked up the recipe for Tarragon Chicken (as they call it--it's on page 189 if you're reading along at home). I made it on my own, didn't even call my mom for help (it was an "I'm a big girl now" moment), and when I took the first bite and realized it was (almost) as good as my mom's, I was exceedingly proud of myself.


This dish is all about the shallots and the tarragon, IMO. I feel like tarragon gets neglected in favor of basil, oregano, etc, but I highly encourage you to try it. It's a very subtle, earthy flavor that is hard to describe...yet highly recommended. As for shallots, don't get me started on how awesome these babies are. I picked out a beauty and put it through my awesome chopper. Sometimes a gal feels like dicing on her own, and sometimes she feels like giving the chopper a cathartic whack and doing it in one fell swoop.





I made this for ABF on Valentine's Day, but it didn't come out quite right, as my pantry was not completely stocked. When my friend Kwame came over the other week, I was ready to go. I made this for us, told him the history of this dish, and he summed it up quite perfectly. He said "I can see why this is a favorite.. it tastes like home." I paused and said "You are exactly right!" To me it definitely tastes like home. I vividly remember my mom always put the dish, and the abundance of sauce (this dish is all about the sauce) in a big white ceramic tureen-type dish, keeping the lid on until the last moment to keep it piping hot. That's the next step, I suppose: I gotta get one of those dishes!




It's pretty easy, actually--I've made this enough lately that I can now do it without constantly consulting the book! I've also consulted the book enough that it automatically opens to that recipe on page 189. ;)



Chicken Breasts with Tarragon
From the New York Times Cook Book by Craig Claiborne (published 1961 by Harper & Row)
3 whole chicken breasts, deboned, halved (I used 3 boneless skinless ones myself)
salt & freshly-ground pepper
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup butter
1 Tablespoon chopped shallots (I used more like 1/4 cup!)
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tsp fresh chopped tarragon or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream (I used half and half)

Season the breasts with salt and pepper, dredge in flour (save leftover flour for later in dish).
In large, hot skillet, add 3 tablespoons of butter and brown the chicken on both sides. Transfer to another plate, keep warm. Add shallots to skillet and sauté briefly, add wine.
Cook mixture over high heat until nearly evaporated, scraping up brown bits stuck to pan.
Add remaining flour and stir to make thick paste. Sprinkle in tarragon, add chicken broth.
Return chicken to skillet, cover and cook until tender (about 25 minutes on low heat). Transfer chicken to heated platter, keep warm. Add rest of butter and cream to skillet, stir.

Pour sauce over chicken (I made quinoa and mushrooms to go with it) and ENJOY!

3 comments:

glennpayne said...

kwame doesn't speak much but when he does, he sure does have a way with words.

Anonymous said...

THANKS so much for posting! This was one of my favorite recipes from that book, but last year when I finally replaced my old, falling apart copy with a brand new one, I discovered that this recipe is not in the new edition!

eonyc said...

@Glenn--you are so right..and Anonymous, I am so glad I could help! Isn't this recipe the best??

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