This creamed chicken recipe was born one summer weekend when my friend Elizabeth Metcalfe was visiting. After a busy day working up our appetites, we went to the garden to pick vegetables and herbs for supper and made up this recipe. It is a perfect example of how a few simple ingredients can combine to create something far greater than the sum of its parts. It is important to allow plenty of time to first brown the chicken, then for the cream and wine to reduce as this will intensify the flavour of the herbs. Use a good heavy pan that can sit on the stove and go in the oven. I like to serve this with green vegetables and some new potatoes that I can crush into the sauce.
PREP TIME 20 minutes
COOK TIME 1 ¼ hours
1 tbsp olive oil
8 chicken thighs
handful green herbs, coarsely chopped, plus extra to garnish (parsley, tarragon, chervil and lovage will all work beautifully, but if using lovage, go easy as the flavour is so strong)
300ml double cream
600ml white wine
salt and pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.
2. Heat the oil and butter in a heavy, ovenproof frying pan over a medium heat. Add the chicken thighs skin-side down and fry for about 15 minutes, turning them once, until they are well-browned all over (otherwise the finished dish will look too pale).
3. Place the herbs on top of the chicken then pour over the cream and wine. Season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven, uncovered, for 1 hour – it’s important to do this without a lid so that the sauce can reduce; the finished sauce should have a custard-like consistency.
4. Serve the creamed chicken garnished with extra chopped green herbs.
It may not be the best-looking herb in the container garden but, for me, tarragon is one of the most useful. There is only one species to grow: French tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus). Avoid Russian tarragon (Artemisia dracunculoides) at all costs: it may grow faster, but it is tough and lacking in flavour. Tarragon is a perennial, but it will need some protection to get through winter.
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