Monday, December 29, 2014

A Celebration of the 2014 Herb of the Year-Artemisia-A Tarragon Recipe or Several!

The Only Culinary Artemisia--French Tarragon!
I should have probably been talking about the only culinary artemisia, French tarragon throughout the year!  Sometimes it just doesn't happen.  I found a lovely article on Mother Earth Living's website from an article first published by The Herb Companion called A Taste for Tarragon by Carolyn Dille.  It has lots of recipes using French tarragon.  I also found a very good article from another favorite magazine, Kitchen Gardener called French Tarragon.  This article has a lot of growing, cultivating and propagating techniques as well as a recipe for Tarragon Cream Cheese.  Maybe just in time for the holidays! Sadly both Herb Companion and Kitchen Gardener are gone from the newsstands but their voices live on in digital format!

Remember French tarragon is not grown from seed.  If you find a packet of seeds marked tarragon, they are going to be Russian tarragon whose flavor cannot compare to French tarragon.  Here are several recipes for chicken and tarragon.  I have not tried them yet.  I thought we could try them together.  This first one is from the Herbal Kitchen by Jerry Traunfeld.

Tarragon Chicken Breasts with Buttered Leeks
Four Servings

2 cups thinly sliced leeks, white and light green parts only (1 large or 2 small)
2 cups chicken broth
4 T. unsalted butter
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, about 1-1/2 pounds
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 t. fresh lemon juice
2 T. coarsely chopped tarragon (If you do not have fresh tarragon in your garden, you can buy it in most grocery stores in the produce department.  If you made tarragon vinegar, you can use the tarragon as you would fresh as well.)

Put the leeks in a large skillet with the chicken broth and 2 T. of the butter.  Cook them at a gentle boil over medium heat until they are tender and the broth has boiled down far enough that the leeks are no longer completely submerged.  This should take about 8 minutes.

Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breasts with salt and pepper.  Place them on top of the simmering leeks, spoon some of the leeks over the chicken and cover the pan tightly.

Reduce the heat to low.  In 10 minutes test the chicken for doneness.  It should feel firm when you press on it and if you cut a slit into the thickest part of a breast, there should be no sign of translucence.  If the breast pieces are large, it could take as much as 15 minutes, but don't overcook them.

When the chicken is done, lift the pieces from the leeks and put them on a warm platter.  Increase the heat under the leeks to high and stir in the lemon juice, the remaining 2 T. butter and the tarragon.  When the butter melts, taste the sauce and add salt and pepper if you think it needs it.  Pour the leek sauce over the chicken and serve.

This second recipe is from Favorite Recipes from Well-Sweep Herb Farm by Louise and Cyrus Hyde.

Sherry Chicken with Tarragon
Four Servings

1/2 c. margarine
1 medium onion
4 chicken breasts
2 t. tarragon
1/2 c. sherry

Melt margarine in frying pan.  Cut in one medium onion and brown a little.  Remove onion.  Salt and pepper chicken then roll in flour.  Brown in margarine.  Add 1 cup of water and the browned onion.  Cook covered for 25 minutes or until done.  Add sherry and tarragon and cook another 5 minutes.    

This last recipe is from The Herbfarm Cookbook by Jerry Traunfeld.

Chicken Breast in Tarragon Cream
Four Servings

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 t. extra virgin olive oil
1 small shallot, finely chopped (about 3 T.)
1/4 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 to 3 T. coarsely chopped fresh French tarragon
1 t. freshly squeezed lemon juice

1.  Browning the chicken.  Season both sides of the chicken breasts with salt and pepper.  Heat the oil in a large (10 to 12 inch) skillet over medium-high heat.  Using tongs, carefully lower the chicken breasts into the pan and cook them for a bout 1 minute on each side just until they begin to brown slightly.  Transfer the still raw chicken to a plate.

2.  Poaching in cream.  Reduce the heat under the skillet to low.  Add the shallot and cook, stirring constantly until softened but not browned, less than 1 minute.  Add the vermouth or wine and cook for 30 seconds, then add the cream and half the tarragon.  Return the chicken breasts to the pan and adjust the heat so that the cream gently simmers.  Cover and cook until the chicken is firm and just cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes.  To check for doneness, cut into the thickest part of a breast with a paring knife--there should be no sign of pink or translucence.

3.  Finishing.  Transfer the chicken breasts to a warmed serving platter or individual dinner plates.  The cause should be thick enough to lightly coat a spoon.  If it is too thin, continue to simmer it for about 1 minute and it will thicken.  Stir in the remaining tarragon and the lemon juice, then taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.  Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve right away with buttered egg noodles.

If you are in the southern states of the United States, you should grow Mexican marigold mint or Texas tarragon (Tagetes lucida).  Here is a horticulture update from Texas A & M University about The Three Tarragons:  French, Russian and Mexican.  Some good information if you are in the southern half of the country.

This year has flown by.  I'm going to try to do one last post about artemisia tomorrow before the new year.  Seasonably cold here.  No snow yet.  Would like a little dusting on the ground at least.  Hope you are having a great day.  Talk to you later. 


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing these recipes.
Happy New Year!

Lemon Verbena Lady said...

You are very welcome, Susanne! Happy New Year to you! xo