The rabbit hopped out in front of me and sat, contently chewing a long blade of grass and twitching its soft ears. Indifferent to my presence, it seemed to be deep in thought, planning its next bunny move. I came within 6 feet of it before it came to its senses, and scurried into the adjacent orchard grass.
I continued on my way, smiling at the saucy manner of the pint-sized rodent. The farm was quiet to the point of boring. Chickens were lounging in the shade of their coop, placidly picking at nearby weeds. The cool, gentle breeze played with their bright white feathers and ruffled the vegetation. I strolled down the hill to check the pigs, who, in a recumbent state, didn't hear my approach over the rumble of their snores. Satisfied with the status of the livestock, I squatted on the hill above the pig paddock, leaned back on my hands, and tilted my face to the sun. Enjoying the moment so much, I flopped back into the grass, closed my eyes and crossed my ankles.
The Dark Angel on my shoulder tapped my forehead and whispered, "Hey! Isn't there something better you could be doing with your time?"
I cocked my eyebrow at the offending sprite and brushed it off. "Go away. I'm embracing this moment. Shoo!" I said. It shook it's tiny fist at me, but stomped off just the same.
Just to annoy the Dark Angel, I laid there for several more minutes before I rolled to my feet and brushed myself off. I did have things to do, but didn't want indulge the celestial nag. I needed herbs for dinner. Most I could snatch out of the herb field, but tarragon I would have to source from the big farm at the bottom of the hill. Our acreage, Winter'Rest Farm, supplies most of our culinary needs, but Juliano's Farm, about 3 miles from our own place, had everything anyone could want. Except pineapples. They didn't have pineapples. Or coconuts. But I wasn't looking for pineapples or coconuts. Just tarragon.
I checked my recipe card- which I clipped from Martha Stewart Living back in September of 2002- to make sure I didn't need to pick up anything else.
The quiet afternoon wore on. I ran my errands and settled back at Appleside Cottage to cook, a glass of Old Vine zinfandel at hand to keep me company. I opened all the windows and let the breeze wash through the house. That action had the unintended effect of perfuming the immediate area of village airspace with my kitchen scents.
A crash from the front porch shook my reverie. My youngest son burst through the big antique front door calling out simultaneously, "Hey, Mom! What's for dinner? I can smell it from across the street!"
I smiled smugly to myself and sweetly replied, "Braised chicken tarragon! Set the table, will you?"
The Rediscovered Recipe Box #26- Braised Chicken Tarragon
1 whole fryer chicken, quartered, rinsed, and patted dry
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 leeks, white and light-green parts only, halve lengthwise and then sliced into 1-inch pieces, washed well, and dried.
1/3 cup chopped fresh tarragon, plus more sprigs for garnish
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups homemade of low-sodium canned chicken stock
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken, skin side down; cook until skin is browned, about 5 minutes. Turn, and cook until other side is browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate; set aside.
2. Add leeks to skillet; cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add tarragon; cook 1 minute. Add wine, deglaze pan, scraping up any browned bits from bottom, until liquid evaporates. Add stock and zest. Cover, bring to a boil. Return chicken to skillet; simmer, covered, over medium-low heat until cooked through, 35 to 40 minutes.
3. Transfer chicken to a platter; keep warm. Place skillet over high heat; cook until sauce thickens, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in lemon juice. To serve, spoon sauce over chicken; garnish with tarragon sprigs.