Ooooh, now, what a lovely meal this turned out to be!
Well chicken and tarragon is always guaranteed to be nice, in my opinion. It's just one of those matches that are supposed to go together. Couple it with a creamy sauce, some lovely asparagus and a sprinkle of paprika and you've taken it to another level of loveliness.
What I think the really great thing about this dish is that chicken is always in season and tarragon can (pretty much) always be found - but asparagus is very seasonal. However, this dish would be happy with some fine beans in it, if you couldn't lay your hands on asparagus. Using fine beans would also make it more affordable during the times that asparagus isn't in season and the supermarkets are importing it from the back of beyond and charging a mint to do so.
Supermarkets so need to be taught so many different lessons about food and seasonality - I just wish the Great British Public could see the light and enforce these lessons through their buying power, but I fear it is not to be.
Anyway, I digress.
I have had this recipe on the menu list for a couple of weeks now, but hubby had some kind of antipathy towards it and so we'd skipped around it once already. Having quizzed him on why he didn't fancy it - and established that it was more a feeling of "meh!" than a feeling of "don't want" - I went ahead and cooked it.
Unfortunately, this is going to be one of the last - for a while - chicken breast meals I can make, as our butcher has put the prices up for chicken breasts and they're a teensy bit unaffordable now. I think I'm going to have to use a combination of chicken legs and just the one breast - or buy an entire chicken and take it to pieces - if I want to use chicken in future.
So it was good that the recipe turned out so well.
I found the recipe in a BBC Good Food magazine, but it doesn't appear to be on their website. In the photograph, the chicken looks quite reddish - like as though it was sprinkled with paprika along with the seasoning before being fried. Having had a look at the ingredients list, I can't find paprika mentioned anywhere. So I decided to add some. I thought about using the smoked paprika but figured that would be too much, so opted for just normal sweet paprika, which went very well. The paprika wasn't so very obvious in the sauce - but it was discernibly there to look at and helped the colour of the chicken no end. It also added a little "something" to the flavour of the chicken in a subtle, but effective, way.
I served the chicken with some broccoli, Jersey Royal new potatoes and corn on the cob - all of which were a perfect match.
Hubby thoroughly enjoyed his dinner and had no idea why he was feeling a bit "meh!" towards it, as his verdict was - and I quote - "this is delicious!". Son and heir liked it, but would have liked it better without any vegetables other than the corn on the cob - but I think we can put that down to his being a teenager and consequently vehemently opposed to anything that might be deemed "good for you", especially green vegetables. I really liked the dish and although it was a perfect "chicken in sauce" dish.
I particularly liked the ease with which it came together, even though - in the magazine - it was dubbed as "looking like a lot of effort". It certainly wasn't!
PAPRIKA CHICKEN WITH ASPARAGUS AND TARRAGON (feeds 3)
1 large onion, chopped finely
1 garlic clove, crushed or grated
1 tbsp olive oil
3 skinless chicken breasts
freshly ground black pepper
a pinch or two of sweet paprika
350ml chicken stock (I used Knorr chicken stock granules)
small bunch of tarragon, chopped roughly
150g asparagus, trimmed and cut into three pieces
3 tbsp reduced fat creme fraiche.
1. Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onion. Fry on a gentle heat until softened and golden, then add the garlic and continue to fry for another minute or so. Remove and reserve.
2. Increase the heat under the pan and season the chicken breasts with pepper and paprika.
3. Put the chicken breasts into the frying pan and cook on a medium-high heat until well browned on both sides and almost cooked through.
4. Return the onions & garlic to the pan and reduce the heat to medium.
5. Pour over the stock and add the tarragon. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 5 minutes or so or until the chicken appears to be just done.
6. Turn the chicken, add the asparagus and cook for 3 minutes more - or until the asparagus is tender.
7. Stir the creme fraiche into the pan and heat through.
Serve with new potatoes, broccoli and corn on the cob.