Creamy tarragon chicken

When you are looking for an elegant dish that you can serve to both adults and kids, try this one. The recipe is courtesy of Aida Mollenkamp from her book “Keys to the Kitchen” (see the interview and blog post here).  I made it for Christmas Dinner this past holiday and everyone raved.

Now, if you notice, the recipe is far from dairy-free so it was off-limits for my daughter (however, there are dairy substitutes below). I didn’t really think it was going to be her thing, so after sauteing the chicken, I put some aside for her and proceeded with the recipe. If you know me, I’m not one to make two meals but I do accommodate her special diet by being just a little creative. I promise, it’s possible.

After reviewing Aida’s book, this one really stuck out. However, being The Family Chef, I had to put my own spin on it and make it a bit more family friendly. It’s naturally gluten-free and absolutely delicious. If you need some of your own keys in the kitchen, check out Aida’s book.

Creamy Tarragon Chicken

2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into strips
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, butter substitute, or olive oil
2 shallots or 1 medium onion, diced
½ cup brandy, cognac, or white wine
½ cup chicken broth
½ cup heavy cream or plain coconut creamer (unsweetened)
1-2 tablespoons whole-grain Dijon mustard

Optional: 1 cup frozen or shelled fresh baby peas
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves (it’s worth getting fresh; if you only have dried, use about half)

Steamed rice, roasted potatoes, or noodles, for serving

  1. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season thoroughly with salt and pepper. 
  2. Heat a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, quickly add the oil, tilt to swirl, and immediately add the chicken to the pan without crowding the pan (you may have to do this is in 2 or 3 batches). Cook until golden brown, but not cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate and repeat to brown all chicken. Note: if you are serving chicken without the sauce, cook it thoroughly.
  3. Add the butter or oil to the pan, then add the shallots or onion. Add about 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook until the shallots are golden brown. 
  4. Remove the pan from the heat, add the brandy, and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Return to the stove and simmer until any alcohol smell is cooked off and the liquid is reduced, about 2 minutes. Whisk in chicken juices that have accumulated on the plate from the chicken, the broth, cream, and mustard and cook until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes.
  5. Return the chicken to the pan along with the peas, if using, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the peas are bright green, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in tarragon, adjust seasoning as desired, and serve with rice, potatoes, or noodles.

Notes (Aida provides great tips with each recipe):

*Basil is a good substitute if you can’t find or don’t like tarragon.
*Swap pork tenderloin for the chicken.
*Add mushrooms to the shallots and cook until golden brown.

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