Thursday, 17 February 2011


“Strong and bitter words indicate a weak cause.” - Victor Hugo

Tarragon, Artemisia dracunculus, is the birthday plant for this day.  It is named after Artemis, ancient Greek goddess of the hunt and of the moon.  The specific name is the Latin term for “little dragon”, alluding to the medicinal use of the plant for treating the bites of all sorts of venomous creatures.  Tarragon has been in culinary use for many hundreds of years, especially in France where it is an essential ingredient of French mustard, tarragon vinegar and the chicken dish known as poulet à l’ estragon.  To make tarragon vinegar, pick the young leaves of the plant, cover them with white wine vinegar and leave them to macerate for a few days. Strain the vinegar and rebottle.  The tarragon plant symbolises “strong and bitter words said in order to fan the flames of love”.  It is under the astrological dominion of Mars.

Here is Jacqueline Kennedy’s recipe for Poulet à l’ Estragon

Poulet à l’ Estragon

1.4 kg chicken parts (can use whole chicken)
50 g flour
salt & pepper
100 g butter, for browning (may need more)
2-3 shallots, finely chopped
120 ml chicken stock
120 ml dry white wine
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
2 parsley sprigs
1 tablespoon dried tarragon or 1 bunch fresh tarragon
250 ml light cream
100 g parmesan cheese, grated
fresh tarragon leaves, to garnish (optional)

•    Season the flour with salt and pepper to taste and coat the chicken; reserve the flour not used for making the sauce later.
•    Brown the chicken in some butter and sprinkle the shallots over the chicken, simmering for a few minutes.
•    Add the chicken stock, wine, bay leaf, thyme, parsley and tarragon; cover and simmer chicken parts for about 25 minutes, if using whole chicken, simmer about 45 minutes or until tender, turning frequently.
•    Remove from pan and keep hot.
•    To the pan juices add the cream and grated cheese, and any flour not used in coating the chicken.
•    Simmer over low heat until sauce is thick.
•    Strain sauce over the chicken and garnish with tarragon leaves.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds yummy! It will be interesting to try a recipe of Ms Kennedy...