Chicken of Aragon...

"I believe that if ever I had to practice cannibalism, I might manage if there were enough tarragon around." 
James Beard
Picture courtesy of Google Images
Tarragon is a main component of eastern European cooking, or so I discovered when I typed it into wikipedia today.  I did not want to start another post with how much I like something, so I went in search of some facts that may take this post far away from my usual "look what I did" and in doing so I found some interesting recipes, and some interesting facts to share with you!

The first thing that I did not know, and am absolutley delighted about, is that it is known by many as "Dragons Wort". I am completely obsessed with the recent tv series The Tudors and as a result all things medieval.  Not for the first time, as a teenager and young adult I was swept away by all things Elizabethan... read everything I could on Mary Queen of Scots... and even my debs dress was an Elizabethan style gown, corset and all.  Anyway the words Dragons Wort appeals to my medieval passions, sounding much better on my shopping list than Tarragon, although I did like rhyming of Tarragon with Aragon!

Some other facts I discovered about it was that Tarragon came to France from the plains of Siberia in the 15th century by the Arabs, and was swiftly delivered to the Royal court of England... and that it was taken as medication for scurvy in the 1800s...It is a natural stomach soother, and was once thought to counteract snakebite...

This whole obsession was brought about by my eating of a very nice pie while at the Electric Picnic this year, there was chicken and a couple of vegetables in a thick gravy inside, but something else... something pungent, that I tasted with my nose, that made this pie so delicious I couldn't stop thinking about it for weeks!

Then while buying my herbs this week I spotted some Tarragon lurking at the back the basket, and I twigged it - Thats it! 

So I put it to use immediately by making a good old chicken pie, using leftovers I had in the fridge, but with a potato crust instead of pastry, the creamy chicken needing something to soak it up! It was absolutely delicious, and my love affair with Tarragon (sounds like a line from Lord of the Rings) has begun... 

Chicken of Aragon Pie
You'll need
Some leftover chicken, the equivalent of or 3 cooked breasts.
A good handful of Tarragon (try and get the french stuff!)
Two large carrots, chopped and cooked
A bunch of Scallions, chopped
A bunch of Asparagus, chopped
150mls fresh cream, use double if you like
1 Tbsp flour
About 800gms mashed potato
A beaten egg.

In a small bit of olive oil, Fry the scallions and asparagus until tender.  Add the chopped Tarragon, and stir until the scent hits your nose. Start singing with Joy. Add the cream. Stir in the flour and the carrots.  Stir over a good heat until the cream begins to thicken.  You want yoghurt consistency.  Pour into a pie dish and top with the potato.  Brush the top of the potato with beaten egg, as you would for pastry.  Bung into a hot oven (180/200c) and leave until the top is golden and crisp.

For a Vegetarian option, double the amounts of carrots and asparagus, and add chopped celery and cannelini beans.


Lo said...

Oh, Lisa - you're killing me with these lovely savory pies! YUM.

I love the idea of calling tarragon "Dragon's Wort". I have a big bush of it in my backyard and, although I love the flavor, I don't use it NEARLY often enough.

Looks like I need to rethink my habits!

Lisa said...

Oh you must! Its just divine! Luckily this pie has no pastry full of shortening and butter - just good for you mashed potato!

Ciara said...

This looks yum! Not a herb I use much of, if ever. I suppose I associate it with chicken, maybe that's why. You have me thinking though...

Michelle said...

I love the smell of fresh tarragon! I would have snapped it up too. I think I will be planting some next spring, the local nurseries were rather limited in their choice of herbs this year... :-(

Lisa said...

I usually run from anything aniseedy, but tarragon has enough subtlety to let it pass through my nose radar!

John said...

I love the smell of fresh tarragon! I would have snapped it up too.