Pasta with Chicken, Tarragon and Cream

by Kristin on April 7, 2011

For years now I’ve been planning out the week’s meals in advance and shopping accordingly for all the groceries I need. You might imagine that this involves cookbooks or back issues of Gourmet casually strewn across the kitchen table while I flip through them over a pre-dinner glass of wine, the kids contentedly playing together and something chilled out on the stereo while I pick out all the fabulous new recipes I want to make.

Or at least that’s what I like to imagine.

The reality is that more often than not, instead of leisurely browsing through my cookbook collection with a glass of wine, I’ll find myself quickly scanning the blog recipe archives for something tried and tested or looking up a bookmarked recipe on a website with a half-cold cup of tea, all the while vowing to be more organized next week.

But meal planning is made much easier when you cook a whole chicken. It’s roasted on the first night, then stripped and used in a soup, stir-fry, risotto or any number of dishes the next night, with any last leftovers invariably finding their way into sandwiches or a quick quesadilla and the carcass used for stock. And when you can feed a family for two or even three nights with one chicken, paying extra for a free-range or organic bird is still good value. If you make poulet à l’Estragon (and please do – you will not be disappointed), this is a no-brainer dinner to make the next night with the leftovers, using all the same flavors. That’s two dinners for the week easily sorted then.

Pasta with Chicken, Tarragon and Cream
adapted from Real Food by Nigel Slater

Serves 4

If using leftover roast chicken, simply skip the step of browning the chicken and add the chicken after the cream and tarragon; you also won’t need the butter called for here either. If you’ve made poulet à l’Estragon and have any of the tarragon sauce left over from it, add that along with the cream for extra flavor and richness.

14 oz (400 g) spaghetti or linguine
8 chicken thighs (or diced leftover chicken, ideally from poulet à l’Estragon; see note above)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons (60 g) butter
1/2 cup (125 ml) dry white wine or extra-dry vermouth
2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) heavy cream
2 heaped tablespoons chopped tarragon leaves, plus extra to garnish
a squeeze of lemon juice

Set a large pot of water on to boil. Cook the pasta in plenty of salted water as per the packet instructions. Reserve a mugful of the pasta cooking liquid before draining.

Meanwhile, season the chicken with a little salt and pepper. Melt the butter over a medium heat in a large, shallow pan (one big enough to eventually accommodate all the cooked pasta as well), then brown the chicken on both sides until it’s golden brown, taking care not to let the butter burn. Remove the chicken and set aside.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon or so of butter. Add the wine or vermouth and vinegar, bring to the boil and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer for 1 to 2 minutes to reduce a bit, then add the cream and tarragon. Return the chicken and any juices to the pan. (Alternatively, if using leftover roast chicken, simply add that in now.) Simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring now and then to make sure the cream doesn’t thicken too much. If the sauce is becoming too thick, add a little more wine or vermouth. Check that the chicken is cooked through and taste for seasoning. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and stir it through.

Add the drained pasta to the sauce in the pan and stir it well, making sure it’s all coated with the creamy sauce. If the sauce is too thick, add some of the reserved pasta cooking liquid to loosen it a bit. Sprinkle with some chopped fresh tarragon and serve right away.

Email this post Email this post Print this post Print this post

Previous post:

Next post: