12 Apr 2021 |
Chicken sautéed with tarragon and spring vegetables
Whilst living in the Dordogne in south-west France in the 1990s, I developed a friendship with Suzette, a frisky octogenarian, who would always insist I stay for lunch on my visits. The delicious, rustic fare I enjoyed with her every week is the inspiration for this recipe.
50g (1¾oz) unsalted butter
2 tbsp light olive oil
100g (3½oz) smoked lardons
3 bay leaves
8 skin-on bone-in chicken thighs (about 1kg/2lb 4oz), trimmed of excess skin
1 onion, peeled and finely diced
1 bunch of tarragon
3 garlic cloves, finely grated
1 tbsp plain (all-purpose) flour 200ml
(7fl oz/scant 1 cup) dry white wine
200ml (7fl oz/scant 1 cup) chicken stock
8 asparagus tips
1 gem lettuce
80g (2¾oz) garden peas
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
cooked rice, to serve
Melt the butter with the oil over a medium heat. Add the lardons and bay leaves to the pot, breaking up any lardons that may have got stuck together.
Now add the chicken thighs, skin-side down, in a single layer. Cook for 9–10 minutes, over a medium heat, until golden brown. Do not be tempted to move the chicken around during this time; this has a tendency to create steam which prevents the all-important caramelization and also causes them to stick to the base of the pot.
After 8 or 9 minutes, the thighs should release themselves quite naturally from the base of the pot but may need the full 10 minutes for the skin to be golden and the fat underneath completely rendered. Once the skin is ready, flip the thighs over and cook on the second side for a minute or two. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
Reduce the heat slightly and add the onion and 4 tarragon stalks. Cook for 5 minutes before adding the garlic and flour and continue to cook for a further 2 minutes.
Now add the wine and stock, scraping any bits that may have stuck to the bottom of the pot, helping them dissolve in the liquid.
Add a generous pinch of salt and some black pepper. Bring the contents of the pot back to simmering point and return the chicken to the pot, skin-side up, along with any juices that may have collected on the plate. Cook over a medium heat for 20 minutes ensuring the bubbles extend to the outside of the pot.
Meanwhile, trim the bases of the asparagus tips and roughly chop 1 tbsp tarragon leaves. Cut the gem lettuce into quarters, lengthways.
After 20 minutes the liquid in the pot will have reduced considerably. Using a pair of tongs, transfer the chicken to a clean plate. Add the asparagus tips and lettuce quarters to the pot, cook for a couple of minutes before adding the peas and continue to cook for a further 2–3 minutes until the lettuce has wilted, the asparagus is al dente, and the peas are cooked.
Stir through the chopped tarragon. Taste for seasoning and add a little more salt if necessary. Nestle the chicken pieces back among the sauce and vegetables.
Serve with rice and of course, the rest of the white wine!