POULET À L’ESTRAGON

This recipe is adapted from “A Cook’s Tour of Athens” from Athens, GA published in 1963. This submittal is from no other than Mrs. John F. Kennedy, which was quite a surprise to find in a local Georgia fund-raising recipe book. Considering the social status of the Kennedys in the 1960s, I imagine exotic dishes like this would have been standard fare for them at that time. I researched this recipe and found there are different variations but not one quite like this. This is a French dish (obviously from the name) and also included in the famous Escoffier’s cookbook (#1550) from 1903 that is still used as a textbook for cooking schools today. I enjoyed making this dish and think you will too. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts, bone-in and with skin
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • dash of pepper
  • 1 egg yolk, slightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  1. Place chicken, onion, carrots, tarragon, and wine in a large saucepan. Add just enough water to cover chicken, about 4 cups.
  2. Cover and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Lower heat and simmer gently about 25 minutes, until the chicken is tender.
  3. Remove chicken and keep warm. Strain liquid and cook over high heat until it is reduced to 2 cups.
  4. In a heavy saucepan melt 3 tablespoons of the butter; stir in flour, salt, and pepper. Gradually add the 2 cups chicken broth; cook and stir over moderate heat until thickened and smooth.
  5. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter; simmer gently 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Combine egg yolk and cream; stir into hot sauce.
  7. Arrange chicken breasts on a warm serving platter and pour the hot sauce over them.

Notes:

The total cooking time from start to finish was about 1-1/2 hours. Much of the time is spent waiting for the chicken to cook and reducing liquid, so it is not very labor-intensive. When reducing the sauce, it is hard to measure the reduction to 2 cups, so I estimated by looking at a measuring cup. When it is time to put the reduction in the saucepan with the butter and flour, make sure to thicken until the sauce sticks and covers the back of a spoon when it is dipped in. This takes about 15 minutes after adding it to the flour, but this will vary depending on how reduced the stock is when you add it. Otherwise, this is an elegant way of having chicken. If you have tried this recipe or have any questions or comments, please leave them below, and don’t forget to subscribe. Cheers!

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