We’ve had the longest dry spell for years but in spite of the heatwave, sometimes you long for something other than a salad. So here’s a recipe for those summer evenings when you want a hot meal but without a lot of stodge.
I used white vermouth in the sauce. You can use white wine, or a dry sherry, Madeira or cider if that’s what you have to hand, but (and I think it was Yotam Ottolenghi who defined this in something I read the other day) the vermouth gives it a slight bitter-sweetness and a floral quality that adds a little more complexity and depth.
We ate it with baby new potatoes and French beans.
Chicken with Tarragon and Vermouth (serves 4)
1kg chicken thighs (or thighs and drumsticks), skin on, bone in, preferably free range
2 tbsp oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp plain flour
Large wine glass of white vermouth
250ml chicken stock
2 tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped, plus a few sprigs to garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Splash of double cream
:: Heat the oil in a large, deep frying pan or casserole and fry the chicken until it is browned all over and the skin is crisp. Remove and set aside.
:: Add the onions to the pan and cook until soft and golden. Stir in the flour and cook for a minute or two then pour in the vermouth, stir, and let it bubble up and thicken.
:: Gradually add the chicken stock with half the chopped tarragon and cook for a few minutes until the sauce thickens. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste, remembering that the sauce will reduce and the saltiness will intensify.
:: Put the chicken back in the pan, skin side up, along with any juices that have run. Simmer gently for about 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.
:: Remove the chicken and keep warm. Add the remaining chopped tarragon and a splash of double cream, stir and reduce until the sauce reaches the consistency you like. Check the seasoning, put the chicken back in the pan and gently re-heat.
:: Serve garnished with the reserved sprigs of tarragon.