Every now and again I have musings on the international reputation of different countries and how fair or accurate they are (you may think that odd, but if you think about food a fair bit, like me, it almost becomes an occupational hazard). I often think France must have had a good PR person somewhere along the line to give their food the reputation it does. Don’t get me wrong, I like French food and think they use some great flavors (like tapenade), but it seems to be a bit of a holy grail amongst cooking, but I am not so sure it is that much better than other cuisines. It also has the aura of being complicated, a type of cooking only a skilled chef can master, which is far from true, as dishes like this tarragon chicken go to show.
Tarragon chicken is a traditional French dish that has a few variations but is generally made with some tarragon (funnily enough), Dijon mustard and either lemon juice or white wine. Normally it is made with chicken breast, but I decided to make it with chicken thighs on the bone as I think they have a lot more flavor and are also more moist and cheaper, if you are on a budget. The resulting dish is delicately but very tastily flavored. We had it – and I would highly recommend – served over rice with the cooking juices poured over so the rice absorbs all the delicious flavor.
How it’s made
It’s a really easy dish to make – you simple put the pieces of chicken in an oven dish, mix together the marinade/cooking sauce (lemon, tarragon, garlic and mustard) and pour it over, let them marinade a little while then pop them up in the oven to cook. The skins crisp up gently and the chicken takes on all the lovely flavors of the sauce. They’re delicate flavors, as I say, but oh so tasty. It makes for a great, easy dish and is especially nice on a colder day, what with being roasted in the oven, but really it works any time.
Any leftover chicken is delicious cold as a sandwich filling as it has that lovely delicate lemony-tarragon flavor and is nice and moist. You can even simply mix it with some leftover rice and maybe add in some chopped pepper, cherry tomatoes and beans for a simple, tasty rice salad, or add it to a green salad.
This is such an easy, comforting dish it is perfect for slightly cooler, or truly cold days, as roast chicken so often is, but has that lovely aromatic herby flavor that gives it some freshness as well. Whether I agree with the elevated stature of French cuisine or not, so many French dishes are considered classics for a reason, and baked tarragon chicken is certainly one of them.
An easy, aromatic combination makes this tarragon chicken a great midweek meal.
- 1 tbsp tarragon chopped (leaves only)
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic finely diced
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- salt and pepper
- 2 lb bone-in chicken thighs 900g, approx, preferably skin-on
Mix together the tarragon, mustard, garlic, lemon juice and some salt and pepper and stir so they are combined.
Place the chicken thighs in an oven dish and pour over the tarragon-lemon mixture and ensure all of the thighs are well coated. Allow to marinate for 30 min to 2 hours, as far as possible.
When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 375F/190C.
Bake the chicken in the oven, skin side up, for approx 30-35 minutes until lightly crisp and browned on the top and the chicken is cooked through.
Serve hot, suggested over rice with the cooking juices poured over the top.
Note: Prep time is only 5 mins, but ideally you want some marinading time, 30 min or more. If not possible, it will still work without, you will probably just have less depth of flavor.
Try these other comforting chicken dishes: