Tarragon flavored Cornish hens (you can cook a whole adult chicken instead) with young potatoes, carrots and shallots is a family staple. And it’s so simple because everything is cooked together in the oven in 1 to 1 and 1/4 hours.
Here is the recipe. This is what you will need for 4 servings (even if the picture you see is for three):
– One small young chicken per person or a whole chicken
– A large bunch of fresh tarragon – 3 sprigs per hen, or 6-8 for a large chicken
– 4 to 6 small young potatoes per person. In this recipe we used white, black and red potatoes, it looks good once served
– 3 slim carrots per person or just slice big ones lengthwise
– 6 medium shallots
– 4 cups of unsalted chicken stock – sometimes more is needed
– Salt, pepper, olive oil and butter
It is very simple. Put two full sprigs of tarragon (with the stem) within each chicken with salt, pepper and a little bit of butter. Then insert a few leaves (only the leaves) under the skin on both sides, on top of the hens. This will really flavor the chicken flesh. You need to go between the meat and the skin and gently push the tarragon leaves (I usually use 2 sprigs per hen).
In a large oven-friendly deep dish, surround the chicken with the peeled carrots, the potatoes (with their skin), the peeled and halved shallots. Sprinkle with pepper, salt, oil and butter to your taste, including on the vegetables. Pre-heat the over at 450 degrees for a few minutes.
Put the dish in the oven at 450 degrees for 20min, then lower to 370 degrees and add the chicken stock at that moment. The liquid should be one 1/2 inch high. This way the chicken will remain moist, and the vegetables will cook more quickly and stay tender.
After one hour to 1h 15mn, the chicken and veggies should be ready. But check on a regular basis that your veggies don’t dry up. If I notice drying, I add some chicken stock.
There should be some liquid left at the end of the cooking, mixed with the chicken juices and the fat. You can always add some extra stock if there is not enough liquid for the sauce at the end. In a separate dish, mix the liquid with the cooked tarragon that you have taken out of the inside of the chickens. Leave the tarragon under the skin. Press the cooked tarragon with a fork in the juice so that you really get the flavors out. You can add some “crème fraiche” to enrich the sauce.
It is an easy family friendly recipe that does not require too much work. Everybody has their own mini chicken! You can add other vegetables around the chicken such as turnips, squash or pumpkin in the fall. I have done it also with tomatoes, eggplant or zucchini. They were added just 20min before the chicken was cooked.