Following my last post’s unusual tarragon and lamb combo comes a much more traditional one of tarragon and chicken, courtesy of my work chum Laura who tipped me off to this delicious recipe while we were raving about our mutual love of tarragon and James Martin, whose recipe this is. As you might expect from the cuddly host of Saturday Kitchen this dish doesn’t stint on the cream, but it’s absolutely luscious as a result and after one mouthful Hubby was already demanding that I make it again!
The only change I’ve made to Mr Martin’s original recipe was to halve the amount of chicken used so that we could have all that lovely sauce over rice for two 🙂 Hubby and I are a pair of ‘jup’ monsters after all…
It’s possibly one of a handful of supper recipes that doesn’t use onion and/or garlic which I have to admit gave me a wee cause for concern, but the wine base and the tarragon are so full of flavour that I didn’t miss the otherwise ubiquitous bulbs a bit. The lack of the usual vegetable prep work also makes this a really quick and easy supper to rustle up which, given how damn tasty it is, only makes this recipe better still!
Getting the chicken skin crispy on the hob is essential, not quite duck skin crispy but make sure it’s browning up nicely before it goes in the oven. The honey will do the rest of the work, not to mention adding a lovely sweet note to the dish without overpowering it.
Thanks again Laura, this one’s definitely a keeper 🙂
Chicken with a Tarragon Cream Sauce
Chicken in a too-easy-to-be-so-tasty tarragon cream sauce.
Get the oven on and preheat to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.
Place a roasting tin or shallow casserole over a high heat and brown the chicken breasts in a little oil, making sure the skin side starts to crisp. Season, turn skin side up, and pour over the honey.
Pop in the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Turn the oven off, and then remove the chicken breasts to a plate and cover with foil before popping back into the now turned off oven to keep warm while you make the sauce.
Pour off any excess fat from the roasting tin (or shallow casserole) before placing on a high heat again. Add the wine, scraping the pan to make you sure you get all the lovely juices from the chicken, and bring to the boil. Reduce until the alcohol has all burned off and there’s only a couple of tablespoons of liquid left in the pan.
Add the stock and two sprigs of tarragon and bring to the boil again, until the stock has reduced by a third. Next, stir in the cream and bring to the boil again, allowing it to reduce a little before removing the sprigs of tarragon.
Finally, add the freshly chopped tarragon to the sauce and check the seasoning, adjusting if required, and then serve over the chicken.
We seem to be eating a lot of lamb at the moment, not that I’m complaining as it’s such a fave in our house, and since we’re smack bang in the middle of Scottish lamb season it seems a shame not to indulge! So here’s another recipe from my #whambamthankyoulamb afternoon with QMS, and one I’ve been looking forward to making again to check it was as tasty as I remembered. It totally was if the happy smile on Hubby’s face is anything to go by 🙂
This recipe wins on taste and effort and really is perfect for a midweek make. The meatballs take next to no time to roll up and can even be done in advance and left in the fridge for a few hours until you’re ready to cook. The cherry tomatoes and fresh basil lend the sauce a freshness that I promise you’ll come back for, and if – like me – you’re thinking that tarragon and lamb is an odd combination let me assure you that it really really works. Really.
Tarragon Lamb Meatballs in a Tomato Sauce
Lamb and tarragon meatballs make for a quick and tasty supper.
1 slice of stale white bread, grated or zizzed into crumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
handful of fresh tarragon leaves, gently chopped
25g fresh basil
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
200g cherry tomatoes
pinch of sugar
splash of balsamic
400g penne pasta
salt and pepper to season
50g parmesan shavings (optional)
CSI-style vinyl gloves (optional)
Mix the lamb, half the garlic and onion, breadcrumbs, egg, a pinch of salt and pepper and tarragon leaves. Get those CSI gloves on if you have them and roll yourself 12 golfball-ish sized meatballs. Cover with clingfilm before popping into the fridge for 30 minutes or so – the fridge bit is optional and you can skip it if you’re rushed, but it does help the meatballs hold together better when you’re cooking them. Not a mealbreaker if you can’t.
While the meatballs are chilling, preheat your oven to 200 °C/400 °F/gas mark 6. (If you’re skipping the chilling then probably best to do this bit first.)
If you have a casserole that is as happy in the oven as it is on the stove (and vice versa) then you can do this all in one pot. If you don’t, do your frying in a standard frying pan and then transfer to a casserole for the oven, or just cook the whole thing on the stove.
Put some oil in your casserole or pan and cook the meatballs in batches until they are mostly browned all over but not cooked through. Remove to a plate (with kitchen roll to soak up some of the excess oil) and set to one side.
Drain the oil from the pan, then gently sauté the rest of the onions and garlic for a couple of minutes before adding the chopped tomatoes. Season with salt, then add a pinch of sugar and a goodly splash of balsamic vinegar to cut through the acidity of the tomatoes. Bring up to the boil and leave simmering for 3–4 minutes.
Next, return the meatballs to the pan along with the cherry tomatoes and basil. Give it all a gentle stir so as not to break your meatballs, and bring to a simmer. Once it’s simmering, pop a lid over it and place in the oven for about 20–25 minutes (or leave on top of the stove for the same amount of time).
Cook your pasta according to the instructions on the packet and drain so that it’s ready when the meatballs are.
Remove the pan of meatballs from the oven. For best noms, remove the meatballs from the sauce onto a plate and then add the drained pasta to the pan and mix well with the sauce. Add the meatballs back in and mix again so that everything is coated in the tomato sauce.
Plate up, sprinkling over some parmesan shavings and a few sprigs of basil. Serve up, and marvel at the unusual but totally tasty marriage of tarragon and lamb 🙂
Is it wrong that I love retro food quite as much as I do? I’ll happily feed friends my beef stroganoff and without a side of irony, or talk Hubby into picking up an M&S prawn cocktail on his way home (if Heston can eat them, so can I!). If there’s a Black Forest Gateau option for dessert then I can be usually persuaded to indulge my rare sweet tooth. And I’ve got my eye out for steak diane on a menu because it’s been forever since I’ve had one of those.
So it will come as no surprise that I have an irrational fondness for vol-au-vents. If there’s a plate of them on a buffet table I will make a beeline for them. And Christmas isn’t Christmas if I haven’t had at least one pack of M&S’s party food vol-au-vents.
I finally made them myself over Jubilee weekend, having scoured the interwebs for an appealing filling recipe I found this on Gourmet Traveller’s site, and thought the celebratory tone the champagne gives it would be perfect for a family get together. And they went down a treat! So much so that I didn’t eat nearly enough of them and promised Hubby I’d make them again “just for us”, which I finally did this weekend 🙂 I also seem to be having a love affair with tarragon at the moment so this killed two cravings with one dish!
The original recipe seems to be for small canape sized vol-au-vents, however, life is too short to make my own so I cheated and bought some ready to bake ones from Jus-Rol. They’re quite a bit bigger than bite sized, at least two-bite sized, so I’ve adapted my recipe accordingly.
Champagne Chicken Vol-Au-Vents
More retro indulgence! Puff pastry nibbles for parties or seriously posh TV snackage.
1/2 small leek (40gm), white part only, thinly sliced
1 lemon, finely grated rind and juice
2 tbsp double cream
1 small chicken breast (about 250gm)
250 ml Champagne or sparkling white wine
125 ml water
In a small saucepan, small enough to fit the chicken snugly and cover with the poaching liquor, combine the champagne, water, leek, lemon rind and tarrogon sprigs. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, then add the chicken and return to the boil for 10 minutes (keep an eye on the pot as it will try to bubble over).
After the 10 minutes, remove the pan from the heat, cover, and leave to cool completely while the chicken poaches through.
Once the poaching liquor has cooled down, remove the chicken and finely shred it (fingers or two small forks are perfect) and refrigerate it until needed.
Strain the poaching liquor only into a clean sauccepan (you can throw away the tarrogon sprigs and leeks) and bring to the boil again over a medium heat. Cook the poaching liquor down until it’s reduced to 50ml which should take 15 to 20 minutes. Keep an eye on it as it can cook down quickly – I kept pouring it into a measuring jug to check how much was left, then pouring it back into the pan and then back into the measuring jug, until I had my 50ml. Leave to cool completely.
While the liquor is cooling, preheat the oven to 200C. Brush the vol-au-vent cases with a little milk or egg and cook per the package instructions.
While the cases are cooking, combine the chicken, reduced cooking liquor, cream and sliced tarrogon in a bowl. Season to taste with lemon juice and sea salt.
When the pastry cases are ready, divide the chicken filling among them and then return to the overn for 2-3 minutes, until the chicken is warmed through. Scatter with something green and decorative, and serve immediately with the remainder of your bottle of champagne!
I’ve always made tuna the same way, always and forever the same way, honestly since I was about 12 or 13 years old and my friend Zara introduced me to her tuna mayo which was flavoured with, of all things, thyme. It really doesn’t feel like that long ago that we were sat in her kitchen eating it straight out of the bowl with spoons… I’m not sure if the squeeze of lemon came after, but my fallback and failsafe tuna recipe for the last 30 years has been tuna, mayo, squeeze of lemon and a crush of thyme, maybe a little chopped red onion through it as well if I’m not planning on being sociable 😉
And then I found this recipe on Natalie’s Daily Crave, and being permanently on the look out for good sandwich filler recipes (which is more difficult than you might think!) and having recently succumbed to the magic of tarragon I knew I had to give it a go. It did not disappoint!! I think it also helped that I accidentally bought a can of tuna in sunflower oil for this…, having bought tuna in brine or springwater for years now, I have to say the can in oil was so much nicer.
I didn’t have everything to hand so have noted the substitions I made which I don’t think would have detracted at all from the original.
Tuna Mayo Sarnie with Tarragon & Avocado
A newly discovered take on a failsafe and fallback sandwich filler that is intriguingly tasty.
2 generous tbsp mayo (or keep dobbing it in until it’s how you like it!)
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp whole grain dijon
1 medium shallot (about 1 tbsp, or equivalent finely chopped red onion)
1 tsp freshly chopped tarragon (I used trusty old Schwartz which turned out just fine)
1 avocado, sliced
4 slices of fresh bread
Salt and pepper for seasoning
Drain the tuna and tip into a bowl, then mash the tuna with a fork to break it up. Add the mayo, mustard and vinegar and mix well. Then add the shallot and tarragon and mix through. Taste and then season as required.
Whack it between two slices of buttered bread with the avocado slices and eat up 🙂