Chicken in Tarragon Sauce

Rated 4.8 out of 5
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Although tarragon had been used only sparingly in American kitchens until the 1950s, the popular French herb became the rage here in that decade, especially with chicken and fish and as a seasoning for white wine vinegar.
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Servings 4
Serves 4.


  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 3 Tbs. chopped shallot
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1⁄2 cup heavy cream
  • Fresh lemon juice, to taste (optional)
  • Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish


Trim any excess fat from the chicken. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels. One at a time, place a chicken breast half between 2 sheets of waxed paper or plastic wrap. Using a rolling pin, flatten to an even thickness of about 1⁄2 inch.

In a large sauté pan or fry pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter with the olive oil. When hot, add the chicken, season with salt and pepper and sauté gently, turning once, until the chicken is golden and opaque throughout and the juices run clear when the meat is pierced with a knife, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a warmed plate and keep warm.

Pour off any excess fat from the pan and place the pan over medium-low heat. Add the shallot and sauté, stirring, until translucent, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tarragon and cream, increase the heat to medium and stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up any browned bits from the pan bottom and blending well. Cook, stirring, until bubbling and thickened slightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. Return the chicken to the pan and turn each breast several times in the sauce until well coated and hot. Transfer the chicken to a warmed serving plate or individual plates and spoon the remaining sauce over the chicken. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.
Serves 4.
Adapted from Celebrating the Pleasures of Cooking, by Chuck Williams (Time-Life Books, 1997).
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good and easy The family loved it. Good flavor, but a little on the bland side. I will make it again but will add more shallots, tarragon, and salt.
Date published: 2016-02-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Quick, easy, but just great taste! I was looking through the WS recipe section on the website to find something easy to make for dinner on a weeknight. Chicken is always a staple but I wanted to make something a little different. This did the trick. Prep took 10 minutes, and I was completely done within 30 minutes total. Great for when you want a good dinner but don't have a lot of time or energy to make something more elaborate.
Date published: 2014-10-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great easy meal This is a wonderful recipe and easy to make! I seasoned the chicken with salt and pepper instead of adding on the pan, I also added a bit of white wine and made double the sauce, as it wouldn't have been enough. Served with sweet mashed potatoes. Lemon is a must!
Date published: 2013-09-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Go-To Since First Published It must have 2003-2004 when I first found this in the catalogue....yikes, maybe even earlier than that. It is simply elegant! I add a splash of white wine or dried sherry but THAT'S it. You're done in 20 and is excellent over rice or with potatoes. Make double the won't have any left, I promise! And yes, the squeeze of lemon is a must to cut the tarragon.
Date published: 2012-08-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Quick, easy dinner that's so delicious I've been very pleased with the WS recipes I've tried thus far. In fact, I used three WS recipes in one day - two for breakfast and this one for dinner. All were wonderful and very easy to make. I was looking for a quick dinner recipe using the ingredients I had on-hand and this fit the bill. I was out of basmati rice so settled on buttered orzo as my starch and garlic sauteed spinach as a hot veggie. My BF also thought this recipe was great.
Date published: 2012-05-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Good! Made this for the first time tonight, and loved it! I added some sliced mushrooms i sauteed up with the shallots, and served the chicken and sauce over white rice. My husband loved it and even asked for seconds! I wish I had made more sauce though since the mushrooms absorbed quite a bit of the sauce. Using dried tarragon worked great too. I also liked that it didn't require a ton of ingredients!
Date published: 2012-01-12
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