Tarragon is an herb that is used quite frequently in French cuisine, but not a typical mainstream herb in the everyday kitchen. It has the aroma of licorice, and tastes like a cross between basil and anise. You will generally find it used with fish, chicken or even with eggs. It’s the main ingredient in a classic Béarnaise Sauce and also part of the Fines Herbs. If you Google “tarragon chicken” you will find pages and pages of recipes, undoubtably a recipe in almost every cookbook on your shelf. It’s another culinary match made in heaven. This week I found myself with some leftover rotisserie chicken and decided to see what I could come up with using tarragon and chives. In particular I have a favorite Ina Garten recipe for Chicken Salad Veronique that I’ve made many times, so I decided to see how I could update it.
One of the most interesting parts of writing my Seasonal Chef post each week is doing the research of whatever ingredient I happen to be highlighting. I always learn something I never knew. With tarragon I discovered that is an herb purported to stimulate your appetite and aid in digestion. I also read that is helps relax you and can help with insomnia. (Perhaps I can find tarragon tea for the evening?) That aside, I love the flavor of tarragon and have had great success keeping it fresh in the drawer of my ‘fridge, in a little water.
Every now and then I like to pick up a rotisserie chicken from Costco. (There you have it – I’ve given up a secret!) They really are just so darn tasty and perfectly cooked. After a long day of cooking sometimes I just have to go the easy route. Once I get it home I break it down. I generally go for the dark meat and Larry for the white. One chicken will pretty much last us 2 to 3 meals. So I do try to be creative with the leftovers. Nine times out of ten they become a part of a sandwich.
Since I had the bunches of tarragon and chives, I decided on chicken salad. For that I used the breast meat, but you could easily use the other parts.
With Ina’s recipe in mind, I got to it: chicken, tarragon, celery, mayo and yogurt. The yogurt part is my idea. I’m not so crazy about an all mayo salad – even if I am using low fat mayonnaise.
I decided to add a few things to the mix, for my own twist: chives and the tender inner celery leaves.
Ina uses green grapes in her recipe, but I decided to go with blackberries. For no other reason that I had them in the ‘fridge that day and thought they would compliment the over all dish … and I was right!
This salad is simple, fresh and easy. Altogether it took me about 20 minutes to prepare. It’s great just made, but even better if made ahead and has time for the flavors to mellow. Click on the recipe link to see my Chicken Salad with Tarragon, Chive and Blackberry. I’ll be finishing up my month of herbs with rosemary and thyme next week, as I hear the siren song of ramps, favas and fiddleheads calling to me!
Buon Appetito tutti.