A 70s bistro fixture updated for the 21st century: chicken poached in a creamy tarragon-infused sauce.
A heavier, more complicated version of this was a fixture on bistro menus in the 1970s, when it was called Poulet Véronique. Fancy. So fancy, in fact, that it came with peeled grapes. I – and I suspect you, too – do not have time to be peeling grapes. In its traditional form, it would have been swimming, proudly and richly, in butter and cream. However, there’s no denying the magical combination of chicken, tarragon and cream, and so this classic lives on into the 21st century in my lighter, more manageable domestic form. Véronique has become Veronica.
Tarragon is a powerfully flavoured herb, and even more so when dried. With just the teaspoon I specify here it will still be a dominant player, so no freehand sprinkling, please.
2 tablespoons butter
a drop of olive oil
2 chicken Marylands
2 shallots or small onions
125ml (½ cup) white vermouth (or dry white wine)
125ml (½ cup) chicken stock
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
2 tablespoons cream
salt and pepper
Heat a frying pan large enough to hold the chicken pieces, and one for which you have a lid, over medium-high heat. Melt the butter (and a drop of oil to stop it burning) until it begins to foam.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper and cook in the butter for 3 minutes a side, until golden brown. Remove from the pan and let it rest on a plate.
In the same pan, cook the onion until softened and slightly coloured. Return the chicken to the pan, along with the vermouth or wine, stock and tarragon.
Let it come to a simmer and pop on the lid. Turn down the heat to low and let it poach gently for 30 minutes.
Remove the chicken to a plate and cover it loosely with foil to rest.
Turn up the heat and let the juices reduce down to about half. Take off the heat, stir in the cream, and pour over the chicken.
Enjoy with oven-braised potatoes, mashed potatoes, or a sprightly combination of lettuce leaves.