Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pan Seared Chicken in Tarragon Cream Sauce

Last week I was flipping through some channels and I saw the most beautiful French-style, pan seared chicken breasts that were bathed in a gorgeous tarragon cream sauce... and I thought "Yep, I have to have that!"  Then I went through the normal litany of thoughts that the rest of you probably go through when you consider a recipe, "Hmmmm.... will my kids eat that?" and "How long will it take to make?" and "How difficult will it be?"

Well, my dear friends, I am SO excited to tell you that my kids LOVED this recipe!  The one I saw used gargantuan chicken breasts, which I imagine took quite a while, but I don't have quite that amount of time after work for my busy family, so I took care of the time factor by choosing thin cut chicken breasts and the rest was a snap for a work week meal (although it was SUPER elegant and could easily have been a date night or supper club meal! ... and it was so simple that I wish I had discovered it before!  But now the secret is out, and it is definitely one of those things that needs to be added to the dinner rotation.  Oh - MY -  GOSH!!!


Ingredients: 
  • Thin cut chicken breasts (I was making 8)
  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp shallots
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 Tbsp fresh tarragon, finely chopped 
  • Juice of half a large lemon
  • 1 1/2 cup crimini mushrooms
    • cleaned with stems removed, sliced
  • 6 -8 large garlic cloves
    • just cut in half
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
    •  I used Sauvignon blanc
  • 2 Tbsp butter


Note:  You could go with regular chicken breasts here if you need to, but I am going to save quite a bit of time by using the thin cut ones.  If you are using a regular breast, you will need to either slice them thin by butterflying them (like a book) and pounding them out to a uniform thickness, OR... cooking them quite a bit longer so that they will be completely cooked through.  If you would prefer chicken thighs or similar dark meat pieces, go for it, but please cook them longer than I am cooking these thin-cut breast pieces.

Step-by-Step:  
Season your chicken simply with kosher salt and black pepper.
kosher salt
black pepper
Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to a heavy pan and let it get really hot.
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Add the chicken to the pan.  The chicken should start to sizzle immediately.  If it doesn't, that means your oil is not hot enough.  You may need to add the chicken in batches depending on how much you are cooking.  Don't overcrowd the pan, as it will drop the oil temperature too much. 
FYI - I am using a 14" pan this time.
After a few minutes, flip the chicken over.  The chicken should release easily if it's ready.  If it sticks, it's not ready.
Remove the chicken to a plate and cover lightly if you wish to keep warm.
To that same pan, without cleaning it out, add your shallots.  I have my fire on about medium heat.  You can add an extra tablespoon of oil if you feel like you need.  If you do, add it along one wall of the pan, so that by the time it gets to the bottom, it's hot.

Sauté them around for a minute or so to allow them to wilt.
3 Tbsp Shallots
Add in the garlic cloves.  I am not cutting them small.  They will really mellow out and get sort of roasted and sweet when they are like this in the sauce.  You can always pick out the large cloves later, but I betcha you will love them!
6 - 8 large garlic cloves, cut in half
Go ahead and add in the crimini mushrooms now.  We will welcome the liquid that they are going to give off.
1 1/2 cup crimini mushrooms
Let's get this all sautéed together.  Can you see how lovely this is going to be?
Well we are going to really make it delicious now!  Add in the butter next for some silkiness....
2 Tbsp butter
Followed by that dry white wine (Sauvignon blanc in this case) to deglaze the pan. 

Note - Always use a wine that you are actually going to drink if you are a wine drinker.  If you are not a wine drinker, I recommend that you purchase the small little individual wines that are available in a 4 pack.  They are usually just the right amount for a recipe without having to purchase and open a whole bottle.
1/4 cup dry white wine
I am now bringing this all up to a boil, and adding in the fresh chopped tarragon.  Mmmm.
3 Tbsp fresh tarragon
After it reduces a bit, I added the heavy cream.  We are in business now! 
3/4 cup heavy cream
When I get the sauce pretty much the consistency that I'd like it (which didn't take long at ALL), I added back the cooked chicken. 
I'm added the juice of half a lemon, just to add some brightness to the sauce.
juice of half a lemon
Looking good, huh?
Before serving, I added just a smidge more fresh tarragon.  Fresh herbs have a way of losing some of their pungency during the cooking process, so I wanted to make it just a little more assertive.
I served this gorgeous, silky sauce over some garlic mashed potatoes, with a side of roasted asparagus.  Oh - MY - GOSH, y'all!!!  I know I started the post with this, but I just had to say it again.  This was so good! 

The sauce was so silky.  The delicate flavor of the tarragon played so nicely with the earthiness of the mushrooms.  And of course the mashed potatoes were there to catch every bit of that sauce!  
Oh!  And let's not forget about those whole quasi-roasted garlic cloves that have not only perfumed the sauce, but that have been sweetened and transformed into something....ahhh... magical!

I hope you enjoyed this simple, elegant, and delicious recipe!
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Written Method:   
Note:  You could go with regular chicken breasts here if you need to, but I am going to save quite a bit of time by using the thin cut ones.  If you are using a regular breast, you will need to either slice them thin by butterflying them (like a book) and pounding them out to a uniform thickness, OR... cooking them quite a bit longer so that they will be completely cooked through.  If you would prefer chicken thighs or similar dark meat pieces, go for it, but please cook them longer than I am cooking these thin-cut breast pieces.

Season your chicken simply with kosher salt and black pepper.  Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to a heavy pan and let it get really hot.  Add the chicken to the pan.  The chicken should start to sizzle immediately.  If it doesn't, that means your oil is not hot enough.  You may need to add the chicken in batches depending on how much you are cooking.  Don't overcrowd the pan, as it will drop the oil temperature too much.  After a few minutes, flip the chicken over.  The chicken should release easily if it's ready.  If it sticks, it's not ready.  Remove the chicken to a plate and cover lightly if you wish to keep warm.

To that same pan, without cleaning it out, add your shallots.  I have my fire on about medium heat.  You can add an extra tablespoon of oil if you feel like you need.  If you do, add it along one wall of the pan, so that by the time it gets to the bottom, it's hot.  Sauté them around for a minute or so to allow them to wilt. Add in the garlic cloves.  I am not cutting them small.  They will really mellow out and get sort of roasted and sweet when they are like this in the sauce.  You can always pick out the large cloves later, but I betcha you will love them!  Go ahead and add in the crimini mushrooms now.  We will welcome the liquid that they are going to give off.  Let's get this all sautéed together.  
Add in the butter next for some silkiness.... Followed by that dry white wine (Sauvignon blanc in this case) to deglaze the pan. 

Note - Always use a wine that you are actually going to drink if you are a wine drinker.  If you are not a wine drinker, I recommend that you purchase the small little individual wines that are available in a 4 pack.  They are usually just the right amount for a recipe without having to purchase and open a whole bottle.

I am now bringing this all up to a boil, and adding in the fresh chopped tarragon.  Mmmm.  After it reduces a bit, I added the heavy cream.  We are in business now! When I get the sauce pretty much the consistency that I'd like it (which didn't take long at ALL), I added back the cooked chicken. I'm added the juice of half a lemon, just to add some brightness to the sauce.  Before serving, I added just a smidge more fresh tarragon.  Fresh herbs have a way of losing some of their pungency during the cooking process, so I wanted to make it just a little more assertive.

I served this gorgeous, silky sauce over some garlic mashed potatoes, with a side of roasted asparagus.  

7 comments:

  1. Just made this for my family tonight and my husband LOVED IT!! Thank you :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Loved it! Thank you!!! Had to use dried tarragon and dry sherry, but it was still fantastic.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Made this for dinner this evening just as written. Excellent! Beautifully balanced. I wouldn't add nor eliminate one ingredient; they all play off one another. Elegant meal. Definitely would serve to guests. Husband rated it 5 stars. Thanks for the memories.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Perfection. Thank you . You have a generous heart; more grease to your elbow!

    ReplyDelete
  5. This was delicious! Thank you for a great recipe! Made it for a second time tonight and also gave my son the recipe the first time I made it. He made it and loved it too!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you so much, Diane! That makes me so happy!

    ReplyDelete

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