Archive of BBC Food Recipes

How to cook chicken in tarragon sauce

Prep time less than 30 mins
Cook time less than 30 mins
Serves 4
Chicken and tarragon are a match made in heaven. This recipe is a sure-fire way to please the whole family.


  1. If jointing a whole chicken, cut the chicken up into eight serving pieces: two thighs, two drumsticks and two breasts, cut in half. (If buying prepared chicken pieces, go to Step 4.)

  2. To cut the chicken into pieces, first remove the legs at the leg joint, then cut the drumsticks from the thighs at the joint. Remove the bone from the end of the two drumsticks. (Keep these and other trimmings, plus the chicken carcass to make chicken stock.)

  3. Remove the wishbone from the bird, then remove the breasts and then the wings. Cut the breasts in half. Use the wings in another dish or use them to make a chicken stock.

  4. If using ready-prepared chicken pieces, you'll need two thighs, two drumsticks and two breasts cut in half across the middle. Place the chicken thighs and drumsticks in a deep, heavy-bottomed pan large enough to hold all of the chicken pieces.

  5. Add the onion, garlic, thyme and stock cube to the pan and pour in enough cold water to cover the chicken, about 1 litre/2 pints, depending on the size of your pan. Place on the hob over a medium heat. Cover and slowly bring to the simmer. When simmering (after 8-9 minutes or so), add the breasts to the pan and cook for an additional five minutes.

  6. At the end of cooking time, remove the chicken from the pan and transfer to a plate, after first checking that the chicken is thoroughly cooked. Make a shallow cut along the thigh and check the juices that run out. If they run clear the chicken is cooked. If not, return all the pieces to the pan and cook for an additional five minutes. Cover the cooked chicken with foil while you finish the dish.

  7. Place the cooking liquor over a high heat, uncovered. Bring to the boil and boil until the volume of liquid is reduced by half, about 6-7 minutes.

  8. While the sauce is reducing, prepare the herbs and mushrooms. Clean the mushrooms carefully and then tear or cut the larger ones into pieces.

  9. Chop the herbs finely and place into a bowl.

  10. When the sauce is reduced by half, add the double cream to the pan and simmer, uncovered, over a medium heat for about 5-6 minutes, to thicken the sauce. At the end of cooking time, reduce the heat to low, remove the garlic and onion with a slotted spoon and discard.

  11. Return the cooked chicken pieces to the cream sauce, along with any juices that have accumulated in the bowl and gently heat through.

  12. Heat the vegetable oil in a non-stick frying pan and fry the prepared mushrooms until golden-brown. Add the knob of butter towards the end of cooking time.

  13. Add the chopped herbs to the chicken and cream sauce and adjust seasoning.

  14. To finish, add a drizzle of truffle oil, if you like. Serve the chicken pieces in a bowl with the sauce and place the mushrooms on top. Serve with crusty bread.


  • 1 x 2kg/4lb 7oz whole chicken, preferably free-range
  • ½ onion, peeled
  • ½ head garlic, cut across the bulb, unpeeled
  • sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 250g/9oz mixed mushrooms (you can use any combination, such as oyster, shiitake, girolles and pieds bleus)
  • small handful fresh thyme, leaves only
  • handful chives
  • small handful tarragon leaves
  • small handful chervil
  • small handful flatleaf parsley (leaves and stalks)
  • 850ml/1 pint 10fl oz double cream
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • knob of butter
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve

  • truffle oil, optional

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