Saturday, September 24, 2011

Chicken with Tarragon Scented Cream Sauce


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Thank you!

I really enjoy choosing dishes from a cookbook gift that my sister-in-law gave to me last Christmas.  The cookbook is called "The French Country Table".  I adore french cooking and making  one of these dishes transports me back to the markets and streets of this food obsessed country.

I do find that french cooking can take the mundane chicken and pair it with ingredients that make the final dish sing with more savory flavors that the run of the mill chicken dishes.  Often, they use full fat ingredients to achieve these wonderful flavors paired with a red or white wine that add more depths of flavor.

We don't change too many recipes in this household to "low fat" or "no fat" versions.  I figure if the french can eat delicious rich meals in life then we can do it too.  We try to be sure the week is balanced with healthier meal options and portions are kept in control.  I'd rather eat salads during the week and go all out on a delicious full flavored dinner on Sunday.

This recipe was delicious.  I did think it important to soak up the oil from browning the chicken or the final sauce might taste too greasy.  The recipe in the cookbook mentioned that this could be an easy, quick week night meal.  Not at our house.  I couldn't imagine cooking this menu for a week night meal. I would say it is a weekend dish.

Of course, delving into french cooking always transports my mind to daydreams of traveling throughout France.  I remember, however, that I have not yet finished bringing you along on the tour through Switzerland!  I think we left off at the Chocolate Factory near Gruyères, Switzerland.

Well, with that chocolate induced coma wearing off, let's get on the road again, and I'll show some highlights of driving along the Swiss countryside over to the Interlocken Lake area to a tiny town called Brienz.

The countryside of Switzerland is story book enchanting.  I still cannot quite capture the stunning views and lush countryside of this dreamy country without shaking my head and wondering if the trip were all a pleasant but fictional dream.  I sat in the front seat and could barely blink I didn't want to miss a sight.

We know it is always risky but we do love to travel in late September or October.  Tourists have vanished, roads are empty for miles, and locals seem to be friendlier to us.  Fall had descended upon Switzerland.  We were incredibly fortunate with the weather.  The air was crisp and cool.  The skies were piercing blue.  We were even able to roll down the windows and just breathe in all of the beauty that is Switzerland.

We decided to pull into the little town of Brienz and look for a place along the lake to unwind, get out of the car and have a cup of coffee and a snack.  We walked around the back of a cute little restaurant.  I think we collectively gasped when we saw the stunning view that canvassed the scene before us.

We all agree that this stop was one of the most beautiful and relaxing (unexpected) stops on the trip.  We indulged in scoops of ice cream, sat back, and just quietly tried to soak in all of this scenery.  

It was so quiet and peaceful.  This indeed felt like a vacation to truly celebrate 20 years of marriage.  Even if the trip had ended on that day, we would have had one of the best trips yet and would have been grateful for just this much.

Bellies filled with Swiss ice cream and gorgeous scenery, we piled into the car and were on the road again to one of the highlights of our time in Switzerland.  We planned to take a cog wheel train high up to the very snowy tippy top of the Jungfraujoch Mountains.  

Around bends would reveal adorable covered bridges covering gurgling brooks that reminded us of Vermont's beautiful scenery.

We stopped for the afternoon at an outdoor "open air" museum called Swiss OpenAir Ballenberg.  Ballenberg is the name of the town where it is located.  Many historic homes from the different sections of Switzerland have all been transported to this outdoor museum for visitors to enjoy.  

We wandered down marked paths and went into and out of furnished homes to see what living in the different regions of Switzerland was like at different time periods.

Of course, this worked up a mighty appetite and we  stopped for a quick bit to eat before beginning our search for a hotel for the night somewhere around the town of Lauterbrunnen.  Sausages and french fries it was, of course!  We are in Switzerland and this seemed to be what everyone was ordering.  

Next stop and the last stop on this journey through Switzerland is coming soon.  That one will be filled with snowy vistas and perhaps a little zip-lining experience by "yours truly".  What?  

Do you think I am fibbing?  

Chicken with Tarragon Cream Sauce
(adapted from the cookbook The French Country Table)


1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon safflower oil (I used vegetable oil)
1 free-range chicken, about 4 lbs, cut into 6-8 pieces (I used all chicken thighs and drumsticks)
2 carrots, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced (I added garlic just because I can't resist it)
a sprig of thyme
2-3 sprigs of flat-leaf parsley
a bunch of tarragon
3 tablespoons crème fraîche or sour cream
coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

(Serves 4)
Melt the butter and oil in a large sauté pan with a lid.  Add the chicken pieces and cook for about 5 minutes, until brown.  Put the browned chicken pieces on a paper towel lined plate and season well with salt and pepper.

Add the carrots, shallot, and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring for 1-2 minutes.  Return the chicken to the pan and add water to cover half-way.  Add the thyme, parsley, and a few sprigs of tarragon.  Cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, strip the leaves from the remaining tarragon, chop them finely, and set aside.  Add the stems to the cooking chicken.

Remove the chicken from the pan and put it in a serving dish.  Remove and discard the tarragon stems.

Increase the heat and cook the sauce until it has reduced by half.  Strain and return the sauce to the pan.  Stir in the crème fraîche and the chopped tarragon.  Heat briefly (do not let it reach a boil as the cream will split) and pour over the chicken.  Serve immediately.


  1. Hy sarah,
    cant take my eyes off those beauuuuuuuuutiful cliks..
    awesome post with nice presentation..:)
    lipsmacking recipe ..wanna try soon..
    happy to vote you ..!
    Tasty Appetite

  2. The picture of finished chicken dish is lovely, especially the light. Thanks for sharing your journey through Switzerland, the scenery is breathtaking.

  3. Fanatstic naturre,so peacefull and breathtaking scenery:) Dish goes well.Tarragon sauce is so delicious with chicken:)

  4. Your photography is simply second to none! This is beauuuttiiffull, and the chicken recipe sounds utterly delicious!

  5. this looks beautiful. i totally agree with balancing out your meals and portions so you don't have to compromise on flavour.
    we were able to visit switzerland once and we are still in love. your right that looking back at the photos it seems unbelievable.

  6. This post is a feast for the eyes, Sarah. From the first shot of the carrots through the chicken in the cast iron skillet to the covered boats in Switzerland, this was extraordinary, thank you!

  7. Sounds and looks very delicious!
    Great, enjoyable photography too!

  8. Your photos are beyond gorgeous! and the chicken dish is to die for - congrats on Babble - I voted for you and you absolutely deserve to be on their top ten!

  9. So glad I stumbled upon your blog. Absolute gorgeous and inviting. Will certainly come back again!

  10. I agree. Eating healthier during the week makes indulging on weekends closer to guilt free. This chicken looks amazing. A perfect weekend dinner. Beautiful shots from Switzerland. What a delight to discover that view behind the restaurant!

  11. I think you've outdone Julia Childs here with your imagery!! And - those visions of Switzerland truly remind me of a storybook fairytale!

  12. I enjoyed the virtual tour with you...The chicken recipe, I really have to try though.

  13. Awesome pics here-I am glad you enjoyed your trip to Switzerland. I have just recently started using tarragon and this chicken recipe is a keeper! Your delicious pictures definitely had something to do with that statement. Well done.

  14. I am sure the recipe is delicious. Your post brought back such wonderful memories ... Brienz and Switzerland ... so, so beautiful. I need to go back to all these places armed with a digital camera. All my photos of these places are film photos. So I think I need to go back and make some new memories. Ones which I can share easily ;)

  15. Irresistible chicken recipe, Sarah! That tarragon sauce looks simply delectable :) Gorgeous clicks from the Swiss countryside. I'd love to go there someday, seems like an absolutely fascinating place to visit.

    BTW, I agree with you... there's no need to change to ''low fat''. You know what they say, 'Everything in Moderation' :)

    HUGS <3

  16. Stunning photos and delightful recipe!

  17. Gorgeous looking chicken dish...and tarragon is my most favorite herb, I put it in and on nearly everything. Funny, I just made a meal the other day that I thought would be easy, and it took so long that we decided it was to be a Sunday supper sort of dish (Minestrone Pie, from the new Martha - de-licious though).
    Your images are as beautiful as ever...and made me think of having some good chocolate!
    xo J~

  18. Such beautiful photos, those first ones have a stillness and mood that reminds me of a still life painting. Wonderful!

  19. I love that carrot shot! Actually I love them all. Such a lovely dish and gorgeous presentation. The recipe sounds scrumptious!

    ps Congrats! I'm definitely going to vote for you!

  20. Gorgeous! Love the recipe! It's classic in flavor pairing and perfect with these wonderful photos to present it. Love it.

  21. The chicken looks beautiful. However, the images of Switzerland with the related descriptions, make me want to go back to Europe:)

  22. OMG...
    What beautiful pictures...
    Awesome recipe....
    The chicken looks so perfect and juicy.

  23. "2 cloves garlic, minced (I added garlic just because I can resist it)..."

    Or maybe you can't!!

    Great recipe, thanks for sharing. Gorgeous photos too. :)

    1. Ha! Ha! Yes, that should definitely be "canNOT" resist garlic. Thanks Janet for that catch! I hope you enjoyed the dish. Have a great weekend!

  24. Hi! I found this recipe on Pinterest and made it last night. I totally did not expect it to be anywhere as fabulous as it was - especially given how easy it is! Thank you for sharing! I'm cataloging it under my "to use often" recipes :)


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