A decadent yet simple supper – and don’t forget the chardonnay

Lilly Higgins recipe: This speedy chicken dish is a classic combination of flavours

Chicken with white wine and tarragon

Chicken with white wine and tarragon

 

This recipe is very unlike my usual cooking style. As pointed out to me by my children when I served this up for dinner! My kids usually reject any form of pasta but bathed in this creamy sauce they couldn’t get enough of it. I don’t usually cook chicken either. I buy a slow-cooked chicken each week that’s been gently turning on a rotisserie for hours from Annie’s Roasts, a fantastic company in Cork. Annie cooks the chickens that have been reared by her brother Robert. The birds are huge and full of flavour so I usually make stock from the carcass and get a few meals out of each one.

I’ve made this dish using leftover chicken before too and it’s come together in a snap. It’s just a matter of making the sauce, then adding the chicken and warming it through.

The sauce for this chicken is mostly cream. With a little white wine, Dijon mustard and a hint of garlic. It’s comforting, luxurious and something you’d cook at the end of a long week and serve with a chilled glass of wine. I’ve used a chardonnay. I try never to cook with wine I wouldn’t drink. It always proves quite difficult to fix the flavour and you will end up adding all sorts of things to try and balance out the acidity, sweetness or “something not quite right”, so do use nice wine.

I often freeze wine when we don’t finish a full bottle. I used to freeze it in cubes but now just pour it into a lidded tub. Due to the alcohol content it doesn’t fully freeze so remains in a convenient granita style slushy texture, perfect for scooping out as you need it.

It’s not always easy to find tarragon in shops. Seek out French tarragon and buy it whenever you do come across it. I bought a small tarragon plant last year and immediately had countless recipes I wanted to make using it. But I had to operate some restraint and just try to forget that it was in the garden. This year it’s really flourished and is finally sturdy and established enough so that I can start using it regularly.

This dish is a real classic combination of cream, white wine and the sweet anise tarragon. If you can’t find tarragon then basil would be a suitable substitute. Fold a handful of baby spinach leaves through this dish before serving to add some fresh greens, or add some fried sliced mushrooms to make it even more substantial. Served on a bed of pasta or orzo with a simple green salad, it makes a decadent yet simple supper.

Chicken with white wine and tarragon
Serves 6

Ingredients
1 tbsp. butter or olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 spring onions, including the green tops, finely sliced
500g chicken breast, sliced into bite-size pieces
150ml white wine
350ml cream
3 tbsp. Parmesan, finely grated
3 tbsp. tarragon leaves, shredded
Sea salt and black pepper

To serve: pasta or orzo

Method

Melt the butter in a wide pan over a medium heat, sauté the onions and garlic for two minutes before adding the wine. Leave it to bubble for about five minutes until it reduces slightly, then pour in the cream. Bring almost to the boil then add the chicken and one tbsp. of the tarragon. Reduce to a simmer and place the lid on. Leave to cook for about 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Stir in the Parmesan and remaining tarragon. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over a bed of fresh pasta or orzo.

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