There are two kinds of tarragon, French and Russian, but we prefer to use French in this recipe because it has a rather better flavour than the Russian variety. Unfortunately French tarragon is more difficult to come by than Russian because it is propagated by root cuttings: you can’t just grow it from seed like the Russian tarragon. French tarragon grows to a height of about
Remove wing tips and wish bone and keep for stock. Season the cavity of the chicken with salt and freshly-ground pepper and stuff a sprig of tarragon inside. Chop the remaining tarragon and mix with two-thirds of the butter. Smear the remaining butter over the breast of the chicken, place breast-side down in a casserole and allow it to brown over a gentle heat. Turn the chicken breast-side up and smear the tarragon butter over the breast and legs. Season with salt and freshly-ground pepper. Cover the casserole and
Test to see if the chicken is cooked, remove to a carving dish and allow to rest for 10–15 minutes before carving. (To test if the chicken is cooked, pierce the flesh between the breast and thigh. This is the last place to cook, so if there is no trace of pink here and if the juices are clear, the chicken is certainly cooked.) Spoon the surplus fat from the juices, blend in the cream and boil up the sauce to thicken it. Alternatively, just bring the liquid to the boil and whisk in a little roux until the sauce thickens slightly. Add a little freshly-chopped tarragon if necessary, taste and correct seasoning.
Carve the chicken into 4 or 6 helpings; each person should have a portion of white and brown meat. Arrange on a serving dish, nap with the sauce and serve.
© 1989 Darina Allen. All rights reserved.