Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Chicken two ways with seared foie gras and tarragon sauce

I made this recipe from memory the other day when visiting Caroline in Cahuzac. Essentially, I was looking for something to do with fresh foie gras that was not too overpoweringly fatty. I say I made the recipe from memory although I have no recollection of where the original recipe came from. In any case it was a resounding success according to the people at the table who regularly tell me I’m a much better cook than I really am just so that I keep on cooking.

This recipe requires braising the legs, roasting the breasts and making stock out of the rest of the chicken. It is important to start the stock an hour or two ahead of the rest as it will be needed in the cooking of both the legs and the breasts.


  1. Two smallish young free range chickens, ideally poussin, cut up so that you have, per chicken 4 legs pieces, 1 whole breast, 4 wings pieces and two back pieces;
  2. 7 medium turnips, cleaned, trimmed and 6 cut in half, 1 cut into ½ cm thick medallions;
  3. 3 red onions sliced in ½ cm thick slices;
  4. 2 whole leeks cut into cm thick chunks;
  5. A large bunch of tarragon cut finely;
  6. 1 large quartered onion;
  7. 1 large carrot;
  8. 50 gr softened butter;
  9. 1 bottle full bodied white wine.
  10. 3 large sprigs rosemary;
  11. 1 bunch thyme;
  12. 1 bunch sage leaves;
  13. 1 medium fresh lobe of foie gras, cleaned up (devein it and remove any other nasty bits), cut into 1.5 cm thick slices and generously seasoned with sea salt and black pepper. Keep the foie gras in the fridge until just before searing.


  1. Preheat oven to 180 C (200 if no convection);
  2. Make the broth by combining the onion, carrot, chicken wings and chicken backs in a large stock pot, season lightly with salt and pepper, cover with water (should need about a litre and a half) let simmer briskly for at least 1.5 hours (the broth will be better the longer you let it simmer);
  3. To braise the legs start by softening the red onion in a heavy bottomed pan under medium heat. When the onion has turned slightly translucent add the leeks and turnip slices and continue frying until the onion in completely translucent;
  4. Cover the bottom of a medium oven proof dish with the onion mixture and add the rosemary, thyme and sage and top with the chicken legs (including the top bit of the wing if you like) sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour the entire bottle of white wine over the chicken and cover with aluminium foil.
  5. Cook chicken legs in the oven for 1 hour. After the first hour take out the chicken and add the halved turnips to the dish. Add chicken stock to the dish until the legs are slightly covered with liquid put back in the oven for another hour;
  6. When the 2nd hour is up drain the liquid of the chicken legs into a sauce pot. You should have about 500 ml of milky brown liquid that needs to be reduced by half (obviously if there is a lot less liquid less reduction is needed). When done reducing the sauce add the tarragon and let simmer for about 10 min;
  7. Remove the meat and skin from the chicken legs and chop finely;
  8. Put the chicken breasts in a medium oven dish, cover with softened butter and season to taste. Squeeze the juice from one lemon over the chicken and cover the base of the dish with the stock. There should be about a cm thick layer of liquid on the bottom of the dish. Cover with foil so that there is a good 5 cm cover between the chicken breast and the foil. Put into the oven with the chicken legs for the last 45 min of cooking;
  9. When done slice the meat of the breast so that you get four slices per breast;
  10. On a very hot, preferably non stick, pan (ideally smoking hot) sear the slices of foie gras for about 30 - 40 seconds per side. NOTE cold foie gras and very hot pan are key here;
  11. To assemble but the leg meat into a circular form and press down on it to form small cake and wet generously with very hot sauce. Top with a slice of breast meat and a slice of foie gras. Serve with two turnip halves on the side.

    Skip the FG and serve with fondant potatoes and this dish is still fab.