Chicken breasts with tarragon and crème fraîche sauce

Chicken breasts with tarragon and crème fraîche sauce

Leiths How to Cook
Peter Cassidy


Quantity Ingredient
4 chicken supremes, (breast with wing bone attached)
15g unsalted butter
250ml Chicken and veal stock
1/2 lemon
tarragon sprigs
4 tablespoons creme fraiche
freshly ground black pepper


  1. Season the chicken lightly with salt and pepper. Melt the butter in a frying pan that has a tight-fitting lid, then place the chicken supremes skin side down in the pan and brown over a low to medium heat.
  2. Once the fat is rendered and the skin browned, pour off the fat, turn the chicken skin side up and pour in the stock. Cover and cook over a low heat until the chicken is cooked through; this will take about 10 minutes depending on how well browned the breasts were in the first place.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 120ºC. Juice the ½ lemon. Roughly chop enough tarragon leaves to give you ½ tablespoon.
  4. Check the chicken is cooked by removing the pieces to a white plate and cutting down to the bone on the non-skin side; the juices should run clear. Transfer to the low oven to keep warm.
  5. Strain the sauce and return it to the wiped out pan. Taste, then reduce the sauce to concentrate the flavour if it seems weak. Add the crème fraîche and simmer to a light coating consistency (it should just cover the back of a wooden spoon). Add a generous pinch of the tarragon and season to taste with lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  6. Carve the chicken breasts into 2 or 3 slices, place on serving plates and pour the tarragon sauce over and around the chicken. Garnish with a few tarragon leaves.


  • The stock can be infused with tarragon to add flavour. Bring it to a simmer, remove from the heat, add a sprig of tarragon and leave the stock to infuse as it cools. Don’t be tempted to substitute half-fat crème fraîche in the sauce – it will curdle as the sauce reduces.


  • Chicken breasts with thyme and mustard sauce: Substitute the tarragon with 1 teaspoon thyme and add ½–1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard with the thyme. Omit the lemon juice.

    Chicken breasts with vermouth and leek sauce: Once the chicken has been transferred to the low oven in step 4, stir-fry 1 finely chopped leek in 1 tablespoon melted butter in the wiped out pan, until soft. Add 75 ml dry vermouth and cook until nearly evaporated, then proceed as for the main recipe, replacing the tarragon with 1 teaspoon chopped thyme and omitting the lemon juice.

    Chicken breasts with Madeira sauce: Omit the crème fraîche and tarragon. Pour off the excess fat from the pan after browning the chicken breasts. Deglaze the pan with 100 ml Madeira, reduce by two-thirds to about 2 tablespoons, then add 250 ml brown chicken and veal stock. Once the chicken is cooked, reduce the sauce until lightly syrupy. Taste and add a little double cream or lemon juice depending on taste.

    Chicken breasts with Poire William sauce: Omit the tarragon and lemon juice. Add 75 ml Poire William (pear liqueur) to the browned chicken in step 2 after pouring off the fat and allow to bubble before adding the stock. Proceed as for the main recipe and serve with caramelised slices of pear.
Leiths School of food and wine
cookery course
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