◗ CHICKEN SAUTÉED WITH TARRAGON & SPRING VEGETABLES
• 50 g unsalted butter
• 2 tbsp light olive oil
• 100 g smoked lardons
• 3 bay leaves
• 8 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (about 1 kg), trimmed of any excess skin
• 1 onion, peeled and diced
• 1 bunch of tarragon
• 3 garlic cloves, grated finely
• 1 tbsp cake wheat flour
• 200 ml (scant 1 cup) dry white wine
• 200 ml (scant 1 cup) chicken stock
• 8 asparagus tips
• 1 gem lettuce
• 80 g garden peas
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• cooked rice, to serve
1. In a shallow pot over a medium heat, melt the butter in the olive oil. Add the lardons and bay leaves, breaking up any lardons that may have got stuck together.
2. Now add the chicken thighs, skin side down, in a single layer. Cook for 9–10 minutes over a medium heat until golden brown. Do not be tempted to move the chicken around during this time
– this tends to create steam, which prevents the caramelisation process and also causes the pieces to stick to the base of the pot.
3. After 8 or 9 minutes, the thighs should release themselves quite naturally from the base of the pot but may need the full 10 minutes for the skin to become golden and the fat underneath to be rendered completely. Once the skin is ready, flip over the thighs and cook on the other side for a 1–2 minutes. Transfer the chicken pieces to a plate.
4. Reduce the heat slightly and add the onion and 4 tarragon stalks. Cook for 5 minutes before adding the garlic and flour, then continue to cook for a further 2 minutes. Now add the wine and stock, scraping any bits that may have stuck to the bottom of the pot, helping them dissolve in the liquid. Add a generous pinch of salt and some black pepper.
5. Bring the contents of the pot back to simmering point and return the chicken to the pot, skin side up, along with any juices that may have collected on the plate. Cook over a medium heat for 20 minutes, making sure the bubbles extend all the way to the rim of the pot.
6. Meanwhile, trim the bases of the asparagus tips and chop tarragon leaves roughly – you need about 1 tbsp tarragon. Quarter the gem lettuce lengthwise.
7. After about 20 minutes, the liquid in the pot will have reduced considerably. Using a pair of tongs, transfer the chicken to a clean plate.
8. Add the asparagus tips and lettuce quarters to the pot and cook for about 2 minutes before adding the peas. Continue to cook for a further 2–3 minutes until the lettuce has wilted, the asparagus is al dente and the peas are cooked. Stir through the chopped tarragon. Taste for seasoning and add a little more salt if necessary.
9. Nestle the chicken pieces back among the sauce and vegetables. Serve with rice and, of course, the rest of the white wine!