2 February 2012

Poulet Poêlé à L'estragon

Casserole-Roasted Tarragon Chicken

I bought a new French cookbook the other day entitled French: Easy Recipes, Techniques, Ingredients (Food for Friends). While browsing with Grace, we saw this recipe, and it looks very simple and very easy. I remembered Julia Child also has this recipe, so I checked it out. It looked more complicated and requires more ingredients than the former book. And from the ingredient lists, I think that both recipes taste very differently. The first one is creamy, while Julia's is savory. Given that I don't have one of the main ingredient for the first book (heavy cream), I went with Julia Child's version.

So yes, this is Julia Child's version. I'm sorry for the poor aesthetics of the photo. I also forgot to place the vegetables around the chicken. Anyway, the chicken came out very tender and very flavourful. Once you open the casserole from the oven (actually, even before you open), you can smell the buttery aromatics, and especially tarragon. The flavour and the aroma of tarragon really locked in the moist and tender meat. To be honest, this reminds me of Hainanese Chicken, although it differs in taste because of the herb and butter.  The sauce beside the chicken is the (brown) tarragon sauce. It gave the chicken another doze of malinamnam tarragon kick. It's supposed to be brown. The recipe requires a brown chicken stock, but I only have chicken stock from broth.

I think this dish is great for those who are living healthy(-ish). However for me, I still like my Poulet Bonne Femme (coming soon) better.

What you need: (4-6 pax)

1.2kg whole roasting chicken
3/4 tsp salt
pinch of pepper
4-8 tbsp butter*
3-4 sprigs of fresh tarragon or 1/2 tsp dried
cooking oil
1/2 cup sliced onions
1/4 cup sliced carrots
aluminum foil

for the Brown Tarragon Sauce

2 cups brown chicken stock
1 tbsp cornstarch mixed with
2 tbsp Madeira (I used dry white wine. BUT THIS IS NOT A CORRECT SUBSTITUTE)
2 tbsp fresh tarragon
1 tbsp softened butter

1. Pre-heat oven to 325F

2. Season the cavity of the chicken with salt, pepper and 1tbsp butter. Insert the tarragon leaves. Truss the chicken, closing the cavity. (I don't know how to truss(tie) a chicken, I improvised)

3. Set casserole over moderately high heat with butter and oil. Once the butter foam subsides, place the chicken breast side down. Brown the chicken on all side for 2-3minutes per side. Be careful not to break the skin. Add oil and butter if necessary.

4. After all sides have browned, remove the chicken. Pour out the fat if it has burned. *Add 3 tbsp butter

5. Cook the carrots and onions slowly for 5 minutes without them browning. Add the 1/4 tsp salt and tarragon.

6. Salt the chicken on all sides well. Place it on the bed of vegetables in the casserole, breast side up. Baste it with butter in the casserole. Lay a piece of aluminum over the chicken and cover the casserole. Reheat the casserole on the stove until you hear little crackling or sizzling sound (around 2-3 minutes).

7. Place the casserole in the middle rack of the oven. Roast for 1 hour and 10-20 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken. Baste once or twice with the butter and juice.

8. The chicken is done when juice from its vent is clear yellow. Remove the chicken to a serving platter.

For the sauce,

1. Add the stock to the casserole and simmer for 2 minutes, scraping the coagulated juice. Skim of all but a tablespoon of fat.

2. Blend in the cornstarch mixture and simmer, then bring to boil until lightly thickened.

3. Stir in the herbs and enrich with 1 tbsp butter. Pour into a sauceboat. Serve.

There you go! You now have a Poulet Poêlé à L'estragon à la Julia Child. :) I recommend using fresh tarragon than dried for this dish.

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