Baked Chicken Pieces with Creamy Tarragon Sauce



By Cat, Sep 2008 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

Chicken and tarragon are a delicious combination, thus I have (at least) three recipes for chicken and tarragon on this blog. This version is one of the easier recipes to make. You might balk at the combo of dijon mustard and tarragon in the same recipe, but I can assure you it is worth the try. Or use a different herb.

I love the addition of sour cream to the sauce, but you can make it without cream, if desired.

See also: 1. Poultry & Fowl Menu; 2. Chicken Tarragon with Wine & Cream Sauce; 3. Chicken Cutlets with Tarragon & Vermouth; 4. Herbs and Spices: Tarragon (about)

Baked Chicken, with Tarragon & Creamy Sauce 

This recipe, adapted from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig (1), is served as a main dish, and is excellent with steamed brown or wild rice.  You can use all dark or all white meat, or a mix, depending on your taste.  If using breasts, cut each half-breast into half.

If using a whole or cut up chicken, reserve bony pieces (backs, necks, wings) for making bone broth.

If you don’t have Organic cornstarch, do not use regular cornstarch as it is highly likely to be a GMO product. Instead, use tapioca starch as indicated.

Serves 4 – 8.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • Chicken
  • Meaty pieces (thigh, drumstick, breasts) from one whole or cut up chicken, brined.  You can also use 8 – 10 chicken thighs or 4 breast halves with bone, purchased separately, and brined.
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 – 2 tsp dried tarragon leaves or other herb
  • 1 clove garlic, minced, or a sprinkling of dried granulated garlic (from the seasoning section of your local grocer), optional
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Sauce:
  • 1 – 2 cups rich chicken stock (preferred, for flavor and nutrient content) or vegetable broth
  • ¼ – ½ cup dry white wine, such as dry vermouth
  • ½ – 1 tsp Organic cornstarch or 1 – 2 tsp tapioca starch
  • 1 Tbsp unflavored gelatin (optional)
  • Unrefined sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • ½ – 1 cup cream or sour cream, to taste (optional)
  • Equipment:
  • Baking pan or cast iron skillet (my preference)
  • Saucepan (for making sauce, if baking pan is not burner-proof); not needed if you use cast iron skillet for baking the chicken


  1. Prep Chicken: Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. If using chicken breasts, it is best to brine them first; this helps them to retain moisture. Refer to How to Brine Chicken for instructions.
  3. Do Not remove skin from the chicken (chicken fat is good for you!). Place chicken pieces in pan, skin-side down.
  4. Mix butter, mustard and herb in a small bowl. Brush chicken pieces with half the butter mixture; turn over and brush with remaining butter mixture. Lightly season with pepper (salt is not needed, especially if you brined the chicken, and mustard also provides salt). You can save some of the butter mix to brush on (again) about halfway through the baking time.
  5. You can also add minced fresh garlic to the butter/mustard mixture, or sprinkle dried garlic granules over the chicken after brushing with butter mixture.
  6. Bake 1 ½ hours or until tender, and has reached 160 – 165°F (70 – 74°C) when thermometer inserted into innermost portion of thigh, and/or in thickest part of breast, (2). Remove from oven.
  7. Using fork or tongs, remove chicken pieces from pan and keep them warm.
  8. Sauce:
  9. Add broth and wine to pan and scrape to loosen bits from edges and bottom of pan.  If pan is not burner proof, pour juices, broth and wine into a saucepan.  Add gelatin, if using.
  10. Heat juices over high heat, and boil vigorously until reduced to half original volume.  Lower heat to medium.  Mix cornstarch or tapioca starch with a bit of water or soft butter, and whisk into the pan juices (alternately make a buerre manie with equal parts starch and butter), stirring frequently as sauce thickens.  Add cream and/or sour cream if desired, and heat to a simmer.
  11. Serve: Pour sauce over chicken pieces, garnish with fresh herbs if desired, and serve.


I’ve made this before several times but did not record testing. So will do that today, 5/27/20

5/27/20: Used 3 Organic thighs and 1 large Organic breast (cut into 3 pieces); all bone-in, skin on, and brined. This is almost as much as a full recipe, so I used appropriate ingredient amounts: For baking chicken: 3 Tbsp butter plus 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard, combined with ½ Tbsp dried tarragon, pinch of freshly ground black pepper and a sprinkling of dried, granulated garlic seasoning. Bake: Seasoned chicken pieces into oven at 5:05 PM); spread last of the butter mix on pieces about 6 PM. Out of oven at 6:35 PM (1½ hours); all pieces had reached 160°F. Transferred pieces to platter and tented with parchment and foil, to keep warm. Transferred drippings in pan to sauce-pan with stock, water and vermouth (for making cream sauce). For sauce: add ½ cup vermouth, ½ cup chicken stock and ½ cup water (with about ⅛ tsp dried veggie broth powder) to liquid drippings in saucepan, and the last 6 leaves of fresh-frozen tarragon, chopped. Brought to boil and simmered until reduced, then stirred in; mixed 2 tsp tapioca starch with about 1 Tbsp butter (buerre manie), and then 2 Tbsp sour cream plus fresh cream to make ¾ cup. Sauce was not thick enough to my liking, so added additional 2 tsp tapioca starch – 4 tsp total – (stirred into a bit of the sauce until dissolved, then poured back into the saucepan to mix and thicken. I probably didn’t boil down the stock and drippings enough… Result: Delicious; chicken is done but not over-cooked; nice flavors mixing and enhancing each other, especially in the cream sauce. I served with braised kale, steamed beet, wild rice, and whole wheat sourdough bread made by a friend. And I have enough chicken leftovers for at least 3 more dinners.


  1. Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig (see Beloved Cookbooks for more about this book)

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