Poulet à l’Estragon
It’s 5:30am. The smell of freshly brewed coffee fills the Kitchen. I pull on a parka and – coffee in hand – head out for my morning walk with the lab.
The sun’s just coming up, tinting the clouds at the horizon with a color that’s sits just between purple and pink. Rabbits scurry as we walk by, but no one else is out yet. It’s my favorite time of the day. A chance to breathe in the crisp morning air. To stretch my legs. And, a chance to think. As it happens, like most mornings, I’m thinking about food. Or – more specifically – cooking food. I’m at an utter loss for inspiration.
There’s a hint of spring in the air. Weighty roasts and braises feel all wrong on this pre-spring morning. But, it’s March. Breezy summer dinners are still a few months off. Often, I cook by feel. What feels right to cook today? I haven’t a clue.
The lab and I have started to circle back to home. There’s a charming little garden on the way back where I spy these brave snowdrops. It’s a lovely setting – natural and barren in the winter, but shards of green topped with little white bells promise of a spring that’s not too far off. And that’s when it clicks – poulet à l’estragon. It’s bright, thanks to the white wine. And herbaceous, thanks to the ample tarragon. At the same time, it’s rich and warm – exactly what I need to offset the pre-spring chill.
The menu is set. Time to get cooking.
Poulet à l’Estragon
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 1/2 lbs chicken, cut into 4 serving pieces
- 3 shallots, finely chopped
- 1/2 lb white mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1 C dry white wine
- 1 C chopped canned plum tomatoes, drained
- 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh tarragon or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1 C low-sodium chicken broth
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat until hot, but not smoking. Add the chicken and cook, turning, until browned on all sides. Transfer the chicken to a large plate and reserve.
- Add the shallots and mushrooms and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms turn dark and exude their juices, about 5 minutes.
- Add the white wine, raise the heat to high, and boil until it reduces a little, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add all the remaining ingredients, including the reserved chicken.
- Cover the skillet and cook over medium-low heat until the chicken is tender, about 45 minutes. Taste the sauce to correct the seasoning.