French tarragon chicken – a family favourite

by Sharon Santoni
The very first time I tasted French tarragon chicken, I was a student in the South of France.   A family I knew there invited me for Sunday lunch, and after delicious appetizers and a light first course, Madame brought in a large plate of ‘poulet à l’estragon’ …. mmmm!   The perfume wafting up from the dish was extraordinary, and after the meal she kindly shared her recipe with me.
The next morning I was out to market and bought my first ever pot of tarragon, which grew happily on my small terrace and provided me with leaves for this recipe and many others during my whole student year there.  To this day, I have kept the habit of having fresh herbs to hand all through the year.
 Tarragon chicken is served with a creamy sauce.  Some people like to add mushrooms to the sauce, I am happy to let the flavour of the tarragon dominate.
Inevitably for such a traditional dish, each family has their own way of preparing the chicken.  Many people use chicken pieces, or even diced chicken breasts.  I like to stick to Madame’s recipe, using the whole chicken, which gives a much deeper flavour.
To make a Poulet à l’Estragon for four to six people you will need :
one good sized chicken, preferably with the liver
a large bunch of tarragon
100grams or 3 oz of ground almonds
2 shallot onions
1 glass of white wine
half cube of chicken stock
i cup of thick fresh cream
40grams or 1 oz butter
salt and pepper
Rince the tarragon and dry carefully.  Peel and chop the shallot onions.  Mix the chicken liver with about 20 tarragon leaves, salt and pepper, and use to stuff the inside of the chicken.
If you are lucky enough to own a big le Creuset casserole oven dish, then this is the moment to use it!
Heat half of the butter in a deep ovenproof pan and gently cook the shallot onions, stirring until they are transparent.  Remove from the pan.  Use the rest of the butter in the pan to gently brown the chicken on all sides.
Pour in the white wine, and a small cup of water.  Add the shallots, the chicken stock cube, a couple of branches of tarragon and  salt and pepper.    Cover the pot and leave to cook over a gentle heat for a good hour, depending on the size of the chicken.
Once cooked, remove the chicken from the pot, leave to rest for a few minutes before cutting up.  Be sure to keep the chicken warm while you make the sauce.
Collect any juices that have come from the chicken as you cut it up.  Add to the cooking pan, along with the ground almonds, and the fresh cream.  Cook briskly for about 3 minutes, stirring all the time.  Add the remainder of the tarragon, cut finely.
Pour your beautiful sauce over the chicken and serve at the table.  This dish is often accompanied by rice, in this house the preference goes to tiny sauté potatoes and a good green salad.
Hope you enjoy!
Thank you for reading me.

all photos thanks to google images


Ms Lemon of Make Mine Lemon February 27, 2013 - 12:16 pm

Tarragon is my sister's favorite herb. I will have to send this to her. My cooking became better when I started using fresh herbs. Thanks for the recipe.

Sophia Home February 27, 2013 - 1:12 pm

Good morning Sharon!

Thank you so much for the reminder of this fabulous fresh tasting dish…….I haven't cooked it for a while……simply delicious!

Have a lovely day..


Barbara Lilian February 27, 2013 - 2:37 pm

Thanks Sharon, It's nice to have a reminder of recipes I used when I first came to France.Although your recipe is totally different to the one I have used. I've never used ground almonds this way before, it must thicken & give a slight sweet flavour. We have some English friends coming to stay & they always want me to cook French style for them, So this will be on the menu.

Our French Inspired Home February 27, 2013 - 2:50 pm

Yum. I only wish I had fresh tarragon growing at the moment. I am ready for spring and the herbs to come out in full force again! It may come to be buying some fresh in the store to try this dish soon, however. Thanks for sharing! – Tonya

Pam February 27, 2013 - 2:51 pm

I will be trying this dish for sure! Our family recently moved to France and I am having so much fun with French cooking! Thank you for sharing!

hopflower February 27, 2013 - 3:48 pm

Love cooking with fresh herbs!

Lorrie February 27, 2013 - 8:14 pm

This sounds so fresh and simple. I love using fresh herbs.

The Buzz Blog @ Diane James Home February 27, 2013 - 8:50 pm

This recipe looks so delicious and I can't wait to try it out this weekend. I love that the chicken roasts whole so it stays moist and I would definitely serve it with pommes sautes, my kids favorite. Thank you for sharing Madame's recipe! XOX Cynthia

Amelia February 27, 2013 - 9:11 pm

I will have to grow my own tarragons to be able to make this recipe. I want to experience that heady aroma you're talking about Sharon. And the dried version, I have probably won't do it.

SusieQ25 February 27, 2013 - 9:42 pm

Guess what I'm going to cook for dinner tonight, thanks for the inspiration Sharon.

Louise February 27, 2013 - 11:50 pm

Thanks so much for this super recipe Sharon…on the menu for the weekend when my daughter visits. Louise

Anonymous February 28, 2013 - 2:15 am

Sounds good… I'm Going to try this tonight! (If I can find some Tarragon 🙂 xx Michelle xx

zanetastyle February 28, 2013 - 2:41 am

I agree it is a lovely dish, in my William Senoma French cast iron cooking…was the first I heard of it….and love it! Thanks for sharing recipe…I will try for sure…ciao Z

carolyn bradford February 28, 2013 - 3:56 am

This reminds me so much of the delicious chicken dish we were served at La Bastide Rose when we stayed there on our first buying trip! It was somewhere near Provence…that's all I remember…and the incredible chicken! Thanks for sharing this recipe! I will definitely be making this soon!

French Heart February 28, 2013 - 4:27 am

i always use and love fresh herbs too. The recipe looks and sounds delicious…except I haven't eaten any meat in six+ years. Otherwise I'd be making it right away. Still fun to see.

Leslie February 28, 2013 - 6:25 am

This sounds wonderful Sharon. I love tarragon and the added cream is perfect. Fresh herbs are essential in every kitchen 🙂

Thanks for sharing this lovely recipe.


Annika Tobin February 28, 2013 - 8:46 am

Hello Sharon,
This dish sounds perfect for me. I will try it this weekend! Thank you for sharing!

Greetings from
Sweden, still white whith alot of snow

sheepyhollow February 28, 2013 - 1:15 pm

I'm also very fond of tarragon! Just a note, I prefer to grow/culinary use French Tarragon (perennial) versus Russian Tarragon (annual).

Stacey Snacks February 28, 2013 - 4:16 pm

Why is it that I don't grow tarragon in my herb garden? I rarely use it, except in Mustard dishes.
This poulet looks beautiful! I may make it tonight (if I can find fresh estragon!

Julia March 1, 2013 - 5:35 am

Well, such a coincidence, this is the dish that I cooked last night for my daughter and I. It is the perfect antidote to a damp, dull, end of February evening after a full and frustrating day fighting cyber crime. Especially if one pauses to inhale the aniseed scents of the herbs which is, in my opinion, one of the benefits of cooking….

Colleen Taylor March 1, 2013 - 6:07 am

This sounds fabulous Sharon! I have a number of herbs in my garden but not Tarragon. I must try to get some tomorrow at the market. Thank you for sharing this dish, looks scrumptious! XO

Magnolia Verandah March 1, 2013 - 8:41 am

I love this creamy tarragon sauce – it is a herbs that has such a subtle flavour. I love it but do not have it growing in my garden – this I must remedy. I have not cooked this for ages, you have tempted my taste buds.

Melissa Hebbard March 13, 2013 - 10:20 am

Thanks for this recipe Sharon. I have just made it and it was so delicious. I think the almond meal makes such a difference. I added the mushrooms to mine just at the end. I used chicken Maryland pieces as there was only my husband and me but I can see that the chicken livers would add an extra dimension to it. Next time I will buy a few to add to it.

Melissa Hebbard March 13, 2013 - 10:24 am

Actually, it would probably work pretty well. As the dried herb is stronger I suggest using less, but I usually use dried tarragon for my chicken or turkey soup even when fresh tarragon is in the fridge.

Kampot pepper March 14, 2013 - 6:13 pm

For this ''Poulet à l'estragon'' just the title of the recipe makes your mouth water! I abandoned the traditional pepper from my kitchen so bland and had only spice .. I use Kampot pepper that I recently discovered at restaurant. A flood of spicy aromas flowing into the plate, a real treat.

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