I don’t always have it in me to eat kid-type foods, so I make my kids eat grownup food once in a while. This is a recipe that can easily be used for a dinner party, but my kids really like it too! As with most of my meals, I try to hide vegetables and use mild spices. You can opt out of the splash of white wine if your kids are just not having it, but it really does add an acidity that cuts the cream nicely.
I like the fragrance of fresh tarragon, but dried works really well, and I even use a bit of the dry flake to top up the tarragon flavour at the end if necessary. I prefer to use my cast iron pan, to get good colour on the chicken, but your favourite browning pan will still work a treat. Try not to shift the chicken once you’ve placed it so that a nice rich colour develops, even if it’s only on one side. It’ll add to the flavour of the dish once you deglaze with the wine or water.
My house was smelling so good once I got started on this, and it only took 45 minutes from start to finish. A midweek feast, really, and easy with plain white rice to serve. I use my rice cooker with just a tab of butter and dash of salt to cook with the rice. The sauce from this recipe requires no additional flavour from the rice as it’s so rich and creamy.
- 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
- 2-3 chicken breasts
- 2-3 sprigs fresh tarragon (2 tablespoons dried)
- 1 cup sliced leek
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black or white pepper
- 1 tsp dried garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon salted butter
- ¼ cup white wine (optional)
- ½ cup warm water
- 2 cups single cream or half and half
- 1 cup finely chopped white mushrooms
- 1 cup chopped spinach (I use frozen)
- 1 teaspoon white granulated sugar
- Serve with white or brown rice for four adult meals, 2 cups dry rice should do the trick
Warm your oil in a pan over a medium heat before adding the sliced leeks and a handful of tarragon leaves (no stems). Allow the leeks and leaves to lightly fry for about 1-2 minute.
Press the leeks to the side of the pan to clear the oil; you’ve now flavoured it for cooking the chicken.
Add the chicken breast, room temperature is best for getting good colour, and put the leeks on top of the breast so the chicken gets good contact with the pan and the leeks don’t burn.
Allow the chicken to brown, try not to shift it, for about 3 minutes on each side.
Add a tab of butter and allow it to melt before adding the mushrooms.
Add the mushrooms in around the chicken to allow a light fry in the oil with the leeks and tarragon mostly on top of the chicken.
Remove the chicken to a plate and cover with aluminium foil.
Add the white wine or a bit of water to deglaze the pan; basically scrape everything off the bottom to save that flavour for your sauce.
Add the cream and combine, allowing it to come up to a light bubble.
Add the chopped spinach and incorporate into the sauce.
Add the garlic, sugar, salt and pepper, and any dry tarragon you feel you need to taste.
Add the chicken back to the pan with any juices from resting and allow to lightly simmer for about 15-20 minutes over a low heat. You can cover the pan if you feel like it’s reducing too quickly.
I use a rice cooker to make 2 cups of white rice to serve, so this is the perfect time to get that started. The chicken and rice should finish at just about the same time.
Check the largest/thickest piece of chicken after 15 minutes simmering to see if the juices are running clear. Once you’re satisfied the chicken is cooked through, turn off the heat and serve over the rice.
Depending on how much sauce you want, you can allow this reduce further, or add a bit more cream to mellow the flavours for younger diners.
The mushrooms and spinach disappear into the leeks and tarragon, and the sauce is just lovely over the rice. It’s a pretty healthy meal, really, and gluten free! Enjoy!