One pan, one process. Mushroom and tarragon chicken.

This incredible one-pan meal is all about technique and endless possibilities.

This pan is overfilled. But doesn’t it look delicious? Photo by Sébastien Marchand on Unsplash

The ingredients

4-6 bone-in, skin-on thighs or skin-on chicken breast (the skin is important)
1 c sliced mushrooms
3 tbls chopped fresh tarragon
2 large spring onions, chopped small
2 garlic cloves, chopped or grated (or about 1 tbls)
1/4 c heavy whipping cream
1/4 c white wine (aka, whatever is left over from last night)
2 tbls lemon juice (or one lemon squeezed)

The equipment

Garlic grater, crusher or microplane
Oven-safe or cast iron skillet (essential)

Turn oven to 375 F.
Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper.
In a hot cast iron skillet place chicken skin side down. Be sure not to crowd the pan. Sear on high until skin is crispy and light brown. Turn the chicken over with tongs and (safely) move the skillet to the oven.
Cook 40-60 minutes until chicken is 160 F internal temp.
Meanwhile mix heavy cream, white wine, lemon, garlic, and green onion in a measuring cup. Add some salt and pepper.
When the chicken is done, move it back to the cooktop and remove chicken. Add mushrooms in a single layer and sauté over high heat until one side is golden brown. Turn mushrooms and golden them up.
Reduce heat to medium low and pour the cream mixture into the pan. Use tongs or wooden spoon to scrape up brown bits and incorporate them into the sauce. Cook, stirring often, until liquid is reduced by half (about 5-10 minutes). Turn the heat off and add half of the tarragon. Taste and adjust seasoning. Place chicken and any drippings back into the sauce, and garnish with the rest of the herbs.

The chicken, veggies and sauce can be served over rice, egg noodles, or with a salad.

The story

I love this meal. It is so fancy and yet you only use one pot. I make this when I want to remind myself that “I can f-ing cook!” True story: this was the first meal I made after our daughter was born. After several months of take out, meals from the freezer, and friends feeding us (thank you thank you thank you) my husband devoured it and said, “I missed your cooking.”

This is actually a really simple meal and its very easy to swap ingredients. I tend to use chicken thighs because they stay juicy, even if you overcook them…in fact they get better. Anything I can shove in the oven and walk away from is a bonus. That’s why skin is important. When you flip the chicken, make sure the skins are super crispy. It will continue to cook in the oven while bathing the meat (mmmm chicken fat bath). You want properly rendered skin that crunches when you eat it. (I love chicken skin-don’t judge me).

I generally use my 8-in. cast iron skillet because it fits four thighs nicely. Plus I love it. However, when I’m cooking for more people, I need a bigger vessel. Enter my 12-in. Calphalon Unison skillet. It is light-weight (comparatively), easy to clean by hand, and goes from stove to skillet in one easy swoop. I’m super sad to report that the line has been discontinued. Stock up if you see them at TJ Maxx.

Tarragon has a licorice flavor, but it’s not in your face. If for some reason you don’t like (or have) tarragon, many herbs make a nice swap. Cilantro is especially nice and you can confidently add a big handful if you are looking to use up a bunch. Parsley is a bit grassier, and should be used 1:1 in place of the tarragon. I haven’t tried mint or basil yet, but I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t work. Rosemary should be used sparingly since it is pretty strong and can easily take over a dish. If you try something different let me know.

Green onion is also a taste thing. You can use regular onions, but cook them with the mushrooms so they have a chance to sweeten up.

Another ingredient that can be substituted is the heavy cream, although your choices are limited. I’ve used whole milk with minimal difference in flavor. What I like about milk or cream in combination with lemon is that you get that sour cream/buttermilk flavor. Plain yogurt would do here too. I would still add the lemon, though, because I like the lemon flavor.

If you use a nut milk, almond (unsweetened and plain) will likely give you the cleanest result. I’ve never done coconut milk. I bet the flavor would be wildly different, but still delicious. I would definitely use cilantro for a coconut milk application. And I might throw in some curry paste, ginger, lime leaves… and now that’s a whole other post.

Don’t have mushrooms? Well, that one is a little tougher. But hey, I could see this as a broccoli or cauliflower meal. Asparagus? Sure. Want to add green beans? Go nuts. What you add or exchange will change the flavor profile, but your results will still be yummy. Cook any veggies over high heat to give them a bit of caramelization. They will pick up some of the chicken flavor from the fat in the pan (you’re welcome). Do remember that veggies are more delicate than mushrooms so remove them from the pan while the sauce is reducing to avoid creating soggy gray mush.

Of course, you can always omit wine. A splash of white wine vinegar can create a similar result. The point is, this is a process meal: Cook the meat in the pan, remove the meat, cook veggies with pan drippings, add a delicious liquid with some thickening properties and reduce. Add fresh herbs. Add the meat back in and serve.

Sit back and enjoy the accolades.

2 thoughts on “One pan, one process. Mushroom and tarragon chicken.

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