Tarragon Chicken with Mushroom and Spinach recipe

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.

Tarragon chicken with mushroom and spinach recipe.jpg

You’ll need:

  • 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

The method:

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.

Saute leeks and onions.jpg

Press the leeks to the side of the pan to clear the oil; you’ve now flavoured it for cooking the chicken.Tilted pan.jpg

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.

Chicken in the pan.jpg

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.

Adding cream to the pan.jpg

Add the chopped spinach and incorporate into the sauce.

tarragon-sauce-in-the-pan

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!

Sparkly Mummy

Family dinners aren’t all they’re cracked up to be

Before I had kids, I was adamant that we would always sit down together for family meals. In the typical manner of a person who doesn’t have kids judging actual parents, I thought it was silly to be serving your children a separate meal. I also had this beautiful wholesome image in my head of us all sitting round the table and having a civilised conversation.

But now that I actually have to share my mealtime with my little anklebiters, I understand why some would rather not.

A dramatisation of dinner in our house

Dad: It’s teatime.

There is no response. The TV drones on in the background. 

Mum: It’s teatime! Come sit down at the table, please.

4yo: In a high-pitched tone No! PJ Masks is coming up next! I want to watch PJ Masks!

Mum: We’ll record it then. Presses record button on TIVO with intention of surreptitiously deleting PJ Masks after child is in bed. Turns TV off. Okay, now sit down!

4yo slowly and reluctantly walks towards the table. 2yo continues to play with his Ninky Nonk toy. If you don’t know what a Ninky Nonk is, lucky you.

Mum: Come on! It’s teatime.

2yo: NO! Catch the Nonk!

Mum picks up 2yo who does his best imitation of an angry cat in a bag, noises included. She places him in his highchair and attempts to put on his bib as he morphs from cat-in-bag to enraged Kraken. She passes him his food and he merrily starts eating it.

4yo: wiggling around in chair, not eating. MI, MI, MI-MI-MI. I’m being a Pontipine!

If you don’t know what a Pontipine is, lucky you.

Mum: Please be quiet and just eat your food.

4yo: NO! MI!

Mum: If you don’t eat your food, then you can’t have any pudding.

4yo: BUT I WANT PUDDING! MI MI MI!

Mum shrugs, gives up and attempts to eat her own food while 4yo continues to make irritating noises.

4yo: Need the toilet!

Mum: Well, go then.

4yo: But I need you to watch me.

Mum: …

4yo stands there holding himself and refusing to go to the toilet on his own. Mum gives in and follows him to the toilet and watches while he goes, thoroughly losing appetite in the process. After the deed is done, 4yo returns to his chair and starts happily munching his broccoli. 

Dad (to 4yo): So who did you play with at school today?

4yo: Everyone.

Mum: And what did you eat for lunch?

4yo: I don’t remember.

Mum: What was your favourite part of the day?

4yo: Everything.

CRASH.

2yo: FINISHED!

2yo had finished eating and so he had launched his cup onto the floor. 

Mum: Okay, hun, but you need to wait until the rest of us are finished.

2yo: FINISHED!

2yo picks up his spoon, extends his arm, makes eye contact with Mum, and ever so slowly opens his fingers and lets the spoon fall to the ground. Giggles hysterically. Then, he picks up his plate. Mum grabs it before it ends up on the floor.

2yo: PLAY PLAY PLAY! CATCH THE NONK!

4yo: I CAN’T EAT BECAUSE IT’S TOO NOISY!

4yo suddenly falls off his chair from all the fidgeting. Screams at the top of his lungs.

2yo: PLAY! PLAAAAYYY! AHHHHH!

Dual screaming continues.

Dad quickly serves the children some cake.

Silence. Mum and Dad drink wine.

2yo: dropping cake bowl on floor FINISHED!

Are family dinners civilised in your house? Do your kids respond to your efforts at conversation? Do they always need to take a poo halfway through? Let me know in the comments.

Petite Pudding
Tammymum
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
The Pramshed