January 11, 2012

Poached Chicken with Tarragon Sauce

We're back! We had a fantastic holiday in France, where there was much eating, drinking, and merrymaking. Although it was difficult to return to a life where croissants for breakfast and wine at lunch are not a given, it also feels good to be home, back in our kitchen, and back on our blog. After all, the aforementioned lifestyle is probably not sustainable in the long run.

While we were there, my dad reminded me that my brother and I used to absolutely love what we called "chicken with white sauce." The thing about parents is that part of their job is to remember things that you've forgotten, and recount them, which is sometimes embarrassing and sometimes delightful. Some of the things my dad remembers about my childhood eating habits are: I used to push my peas around the plate to make it look like I had eaten more; I refused to eat grapes after they had been washed for the first time and replaced in the fridge; I claimed that I only liked the "meaty parts" of the bacon and when he tried to accomodate me by removing the fat, I protested that he had removed the "meaty part" (yeah, turns out I just liked the fat). The chicken with white sauce, though, was a great memory of a forgotten favorite, so as soon as he reminded me I knew that Michael and I had to make it, and it did not disappoint.

Poached Chicken with Tarragon Sauce (serves 2)
Adapted from Bon App├ętit, April 2003

- One large or two small boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2/3 - 3/4 of a pound feeds us)
- 1/2 tbsp butter
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup whipping cream
- 2 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper, to taste

Pat the chicken dry and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy saucepan (preferably not nonstick) over medium high heat and, when it's hot, put the chicken in. Cook on each side about two minutes, until browned, and then remove the chicken to a plate.

Turn the heat down to medium and add the shallots, cooking until they're just soft. Pour in the wine and scrape up the browned bits from the pan. Cook until the wine has reduced significantly (you should have just a thin layer covering the bottom of the pan).

Add the stock and put the chicken back in the pan (you want the chicken to be about a quarter of the way immersed in liquid, so make adjustments if necessary). Turn the heat to medium low and cover; let simmer until the chicken is cooked through (about 20 minutes).

Remove the chicken and cover with foil to keep warm while you prepare the sauce. Stir the cream, tarragon, and mustard into the stock mixture, and turn the heat up to high. Cook until the sauce has reduced and thickened to your liking. Adjust salt and pepper as needed.

We served our chicken with wild rice and string beans. Pour the "white" sauce liberally over everything!


  1. I'm back to say this looks great too! :) I made something like this, I call it Vincent's Lemon Chicken (made with heavy cream). I should do a post on it on my blog. Anyway, I would love to pin this on Pinterest, but I would like your permission first. Let me know if you wouldn't mind! (or let me know if you are on Pinterest and can repin this)

    1. Thanks Gloria! We'd love to see your recipe too. Please feel free to pin this and anything else you like here!

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