Tarragon Chicken with Crimini Mushrooms and Artichoke Hearts

Our garden has changed personalities many times in the 20 plus years we have lived in our home in this San Francisco Bay Area neighborhood.  The previous owners did not have a green thumb by any means so the back and side yards of the property were nothing but  miserable compilations of dying grass, some very happy and content weeds and a few trees that had never been pruned.  Our plans were grand and included the vision of a plot of ground in which we would be able to grow our own produce.  The “wish list” of things that needed to be planted was long and ambitious.  We had visions of row upon row of baby lettuces and greens.  There needed to be bright orange carrots, white onions, basil, crisp green beans and beets.  A rhubarb plant was a “must have” since rhubarb had been a part of my youth on the farm and I absolutely loved the fresh rhubarb custard pies Mom would frequently make.  Red potatoes?  Absolutely!  There was nothing better than the first red potatoes my Grandpa Neve would turn over with his garden fork as we anticipated one of Grandma’s delicious home cooked meals in which the side would be those small and delectable red potatoes served with nothing but a dab of rich butter and a dash of salt and pepper.  As Grandpa turned the garden fork over and over we would enthusiastically pick those small red orbs from the overturned warm earth, brushing the dirt from them and counting each one as we scoured through the rich black Minnesota soil.  What else did our garden plot have  to have?  An artichoke plant or two, of course… after all, artichokes grow here!  My mind was swimming with the possibilities.  Reality struck hard, however.  The garden we had had back on the farm was over an acre in size.  The acre of garden that was growing so vividly in my mind would have to fit in a space six by twenty feet!  I was, admittedly, disappointed when I was forced to face that reality.  That disappointment, however, quickly faded away as I acknowledged the fact that we have an abundance of fresh produce to choose from twelve months of the year.  My plan, therefore, was to tuck into our landscaping scheme a few selected herbs, those that are not necessarily used on a day to day basis but always appreciated as “just out the back door” when needed as a unique ingredient for that special dish.  One such herb we planted was tarragon.

Tarragon is aromatically reminiscent of anise and is one of the four fines herbs used in French cooking.  It is particularly well suited for chicken, fish and egg dishes.  The tarragon in this dish marries extremely well with the earthiness of the Crimini mushrooms, fragrant garlic, Champagne vinegar and artichoke hearts.

Tarragon Chicken with Crimini Mushrooms & Artichoke Hearts

  • 1 whole fryer, cut into four pieces, backbone removed (or purchase 2 whole legs & 2 breasts, bone-in with skin)

Pat the chicken pieces dry with a paper towel then sprinkle lightly with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Set aside and prepare:

  • 6 large garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 8 oz package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
  • 8 oz small Crimini mushrooms, whole
  • 2 T whole tarragon leaves, stripped from the stem

Chef’s Note:  At your produce market you may find several sizes of Crimini mushrooms available.  We are able to purchase them small, medium or large.  The small ones are approximately an inch in diameter and can be used whole in this recipe.  Medium sized ones should be cut in half and the larger ones should be quartered.

In a heavy 12-inch sauteuse or small rondo heat over moderately high heat till shimmering:

  • 1/4 C extra virgin olive oil

Dredge the chicken pieces in flour, coating well.  Shake off any excess flour and place chicken skin side down in the pan.  Brown all sides well, including the edges.  This step is extremely important to insure that the chicken will be thoroughly cooked by the end of the braising time!  When the chicken is a rich golden brown remove the pan from the heat and lift each piece  from the sauteuse.  Set the chicken aside and discard the remaining oil from the pan.  Use a paper towel to wipe out any remaining burnt flour bits.  Return the pan to the heat and add:

  • 1/4 C extra virgin olive oil and heat till shimmering

Add the sliced garlic and quickly saute until the garlic begins to turn golden.  This happens very quickly so be mindful that the garlic doesn’t burn!  Immediately add to the pan, to stop the garlic from further cooking:

  •  1 C chicken stock (preferably low sodium)
  • 1/2 C white wine
  • 3 T Champagne vinegar

Add:

  • 2 tsp tarragon leaves, minced

Add the Crimini mushrooms and the artichoke hearts.  Stir to combine and return the chicken to the pan, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a heated platter and keep warm.  Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon to a small bowl and set aside.  To the braising liquid add:

  • 1/2 C chicken stock

Make a slurry by whisking together:

  • 1/2 C milk
  • 2 1/2 T flour

Chef’s Note:  It is vital that the slurry be frothy and lump-free!

Whisk the slurry into the braising liquid until totally incorporated and beginning to thicken… be sure to thoroughly whisk the bottom edges of the pan so all of the slurry is incorporated.  If you feel that your sauce is too thick add an additional splash or two of stock.  Return the vegetables to the sauce and bring to a simmer. Add, then stir well to incorporate into the sauce:

  • 2 generous T creme fraiche

Correct seasoning by adding:

  • Salt and ground white pepper (we add 1/2 tsp), to taste

Nap the chicken with the sauce, making sure the artichoke hearts and Crimini mushrooms are evenly distributed.  Garnish with a light sprinkling of paprika… Bon Appetit!

 Copyright 2009 Via Aurea Designs, Inc., All Rights Reserved

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Tags:

Categories: Chicken

Author:Steve Meyer & Dayton Azevedo

Food and fine cooking have been our passion for many years, fueled by the year-around abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, poultry and meats, as well as aromatic spices and herbs readily available to us here in the San Francisco Bay Area, making adventuresome, creative and delicious 5-star cooking a reality in our kitchen. Our aim is to make it yours as well by utilizing our step by step instructions and serial photographs. Bon Appetit from our kitchen to yours...!

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