Food & Drink Magazine

Chicken Savoyarde

By Mariealicerayner @MarieRynr
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This is actually something which I cooked a few weeks back but held off showing you because it seemed like too many chicken recipes in a row!  (Not that you can ever eat too much chicken in my opinion, but . . . there ya go!)   I didn't want you getting bored.
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One of my favorite fresh herbs has to be tarragon.  It has long velvety green leaves and  a lovely distinctive aniseed flavor which I quite enjoy, going very well with fish and chicken.  I use it in my Cod Fish Cakes  and tartar sauce, which is gorgeously delish if I don't say so myself!  I haven't made them in a while now . . . hmmm . . .
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It's used a lot in French Cookery, particularly with chicken (think Chicken Tarragon here) and makes wonderfully flavourful vinegars and oils.  It is one of my favorite herbs that I grow in my garden and it's doing quite well at the moment . . . so when I found myself in the position of having some leftover roasted chicken a week or so ago I decided to combine the two and make one of our favorite chicken casseroles . . . Chicken Savoyarde . . .
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This is a deliciously comforting chicken dish, composed of gently poached chicken (or leftover chicken if you have it) in a wonderfully rich mustard and tarragon cream sauce . . . this casserole is special enough that you could fix and serve it to company . . .
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Actually it is the perfect company dish because you can make it up completely ahead of time, the night before in fact . . .  and then just  top it with the crumbs and heat it up in the oven while you are visiting with your guests.
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I like to serve it with steamed baby new potatoes and a green vegetable . . . like broccoli.  Broccoli is very good with it.  I am particularly fond of baby stem broccoli . . . oh, and asparagus.  That is also nice.  But then again . . . peas and early beans are coming into their own at the moment too . . .
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By all means poach your own chicken to use in this if you want.  You won't regret it and it won't heat your kitchen up too much . . .  It's not that hard to do and ensures nice moist meat . . . but leftover roast chicken is awfully good too.  I love the soft velvety and creamy sauce against the moist chicken and that cheesy bread crumb crunch on top is just . . . oh . . . la . . . la
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*Chicken Savoyarde*
Serves 6
This is not much more than a glamorous chicken casserole and so very easy to make. It's a great way to dress up leftover turkey or chicken if that's all you have, but well worth the extra effort and expense of buying a chicken purposely to poach and dress up in this simple but decadently delicious manner. This will have them scrambling for seconds.
For cooking the chicken:
1 (4 1/2 lb) free range chicken, organic if possible
2 small onions, cut in half and stuck with two cloves
2 carrots, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
3 stick of celery, halved (preferably with some leaves attached)
2 leeks, trimmed and well washed
2 bay leaves
2 springs of thyme
salt
For the sauce and finishing:60g (4 TBS)
60g plain flour (generous half cup)415ml of the stock, reserved from poaching the chicken (1 3/4 cup)285ml dry white wine (generous cup)225ml double cream (1 cup)180g gruyere cheese, grated (3/4 cup)
1 TBS Dijon mustard
2 ounces tarragon leaves, chopped (scant quarter cup)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
60g of fresh white bread crumbs (1 cup)
30g  of grated strong cheddar cheese (1/4 cup)
2 TBS of grated Parmesan cheese
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To Poach the chicken: Put the chicken into a large pot along with cold water, barely enough to cover it. Add the vegetables and herbs and a good sprinkling of salt. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat immediately and poach very gently for around an hour and a half. Once cooked thoroughly and tender, lift the chicken very carefully out of the poaching liquid onto a plate and allow it to cool. Strain the poaching liquid through a fine sieve, and set aside to cool. Once cooled, lift off any surface fat. I like to use paper kitchen toweling for this. I just keep sweeping it over the top and it lifts and absorbs all the grease. You could also put it into the fridge to chill and the fat would harden to the point where you can just lift it off quite easily.
Remove all the meat from the chicken carcass, discarding any fat, bone or gristle. Cut into large bite sized pieces and place in a lightly greased gratin dish.
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To make the sauce: Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the flour and cook over medium low heat for at least three minutes, without browning. Gradually whisk in the hot chicken stock, white wine and the cream. Cook and stir until bubbly and thickened. Whisk in the cheese, mustard and tarragon. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed with some sea salt and black pepper. Simmer for about 20 minutes over low heat.
Pre-heat the oven to 230*C/450*F. Pour the sauce over the chicken in the gratin dish. Mix the bread crumbs and cheeses together and sprinkle evenly over top. Bake the dish in the heated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly. Remove from the oven and serve.
We like to have this with steamed baby potatoes and a green vegetables.  Don't think about the calories!
Note - If you can't get fresh tarragon, it is acceptable to use dried.  Use half the amount in that case.

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