Chicken with Tarragon

James Beard

Author and Educator

Known as Poulet à l’Estragon in French, this simple, classic home-style dish was a favorite of James Beard, especially because it featured his favorite herb, tarragon. The French incorporate tarragon into a myriad of dishes and condiments, from béarnaise sauce to vinegar. And, according to Beard, it’s “the best friend a chicken ever had.” To round the dish out into a full meal, we recommend serving it with Beard's Brussels sprouts with bacon.


  • Two 2 1/2 to 3-pound frying chickens, cut in quarters
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 to 10 shallots or 10 to 12 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 4 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped or 2 tablespoons dried
  • 4 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped


Melt butter and oil in a covered skillet large enough to hold all the chicken pieces. When the butter is hot, add the chicken pieces skin side down and brown. Turn them over and brown the other side. This will take about 10 minutes. Salt and pepper them well. If you don’t have a large enough skillet, after browning the pieces place them in a covered Dutch oven or casserole and continue cooking.

Add the shallots or scallions. Lower the heat, cover the pan, and simmer very, very slowly for 15 to 18 minutes, or 20 minutes if the chickens are on the large side.

Remove the cover, increase the heat slightly, and add the white wine, tarragon, and parsley, scraping up any bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Turn the chicken pieces again, and cook briskly for 3 or 4 minutes to reduce the sauce a little.

Serve with tiny new potatoes or James Beard's Brussels sprouts with bacon.


4 to 6 servings