Chicken Breast with Tarragon Sous-Vide

Chicken and tarragon are a classic combination in French cuisine: Poulet à l’Estragon. In this recipe the chicken breast is seasoned with paprika and served with a sauce made from chicken stock, white wine, shallots, and tarragon. The tarragon sauce was nice, although I may have used a bit too much tarragon as it overpowered the chicken just a bit.

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I wanted to experiment a bit with cooking chicken breast sous-vide at a lower temperature than I tried previously, because I tend to like both meat and fish when they are ‘medium rare’ and the nice thing about sous-vide is that you can cook chicken medium rare as well as pasteurize it. With pasteurizing I mean that it is heated such that so much of any possible salmonella contamination has been killed that it is safe to eat (a 10 million to 1 reduction, meaning that 9,999,999 out of every 10,000,000 salmonella bacteria have been killed). The lowest temperature to pasteurize chicken is 57C/135F. At this temperature, it takes 3 hours to pasteurize a chicken breast (as long as it’s not thicker than 2.5 cm/1 inch, otherwise it will take longer). The chicken breast was indeed more juicy with a ‘smoother’ texture than the chicken breast cooked at 60C/140F (which was slightly flaky). Here’s what I did.

Ingredients

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For 4 servings

4 single chicken breasts

paprika

salt and freshly ground black pepper

120 ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine

120 ml (1/2 cup) homemade chicken stock

2 shallots, chopped

fresh tarragon

clarified butter or olive oil

Preparation

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Season chicken breast with salt, pepper and paprika to taste. Vacuum seal with fresh tarragon.

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Cook sous-vide for 3 hours at 57C/135F.

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Take out of the bag, discard tarragon and pat dry with paper towels.

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Brown the chicken breasts quickly over high heat in clarified butter or olive oil. Remove the chicken breast from the pan and keep warm in a low oven (about 70C/160F) or wrapped in aluminum foil.

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Sauté the shallot in the butter that remained in the pan until translucent. Deglaze with the white wine.

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Add the chicken stock.

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Cook until reduced to about 80 ml (1/3 cup).

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Whisk in some cold butter to thicken the sauce and make it shiny (this is called mounting with butter).

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Stir in some chopped fresh tarragon.

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Serve the chicken on warm plates with the sauce.

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12 thoughts on “Chicken Breast with Tarragon Sous-Vide

  1. I really do enjoy tarragon with chicken but have often used too much. It can really overwhelm everything else on the plate. I no longer use it nearly as often as I once did. Even so, your chicken here looks very nicely prepared, Stefan, and I bet your sauce was wonderful. Another great recipe!

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  2. Hmmm…medium rare chicken. Intriguing… Were you able to infuse the flavor of the tarragon into the chicken. I realize you said the tarragon overpowered the chicken but was it the tarragon in the sauce or that which was infused into the flesh of the chicken itself?

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    • After cooking all of them sous-vide, I chilled and saved half in the sous-vide pouch with the tarragon until the next day. For the first the tarragon in the sauce was overpowering, but for the chicken ‘marinated’ for 24 hours with the tarragon, too much of the tarragon flavor had infused into the chicken. I do not remember (and it was difficult to sauce because of the sauce) how much tarragon flavor had infused in the chicken we ate right away.

      I am going to do some more sous-vide infusion experiments and will post about that, to find out how to use fresh herbs with sous-vide.

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