Brined and Roasted Chicken with Tarragon Vinegar Cream Sauce

September 9, 2011

This one sounds more complicated than it really is.  It does need to be started ahead of time to give it plenty of time in the brine but it’s still a fairly simple process. The brining made for some incredibly tender and juicy chicken.  I added tarragon to the brine mixture this time because  I was planning the  tarragon sauce.  Vary the herbs or seasoning according to your preferences or favorite chicken flavors.  Simply roasting the brined chicken would be easy and delicious.  Whole roasters or parts, you can’t go wrong.

The Tarragon Vinegar Cream Sauce was inspired by this old favorite. Since I was cooking for 12, fitting it all into one saute pan just wasn’t going to happen.  Besides, I wanted something that could just go in the oven for a while to give me time to socialize a bit while getting the rest of the dinner together.  Served up with Gouda grits and roasted veggies, it was a huge hit.  It’d pair equally well with polenta, risotto or potatoes.


First, the brine.  I put this together the night before and let the chicken brine overnight.  Allow a minimum of 12 hours.

  • Chicken – I used an assortment of breasts and thighs.  Use your favorite parts or a whole chicken or two.
  • Water, 1/2 gallon
  • Kosher Salt, 1/2 cup
  • Brown Sugar, 1/2 cup
  • Peppercorns, 2 tablespoons
  • Bay Leaves, 2 or 3
  • Tarragon Sprigs

Add the salt, sugar, pepper and herbs to the water.

Stir it all together and let it sit for about 20 minutes to allow the salt to dissolve.  In the meantime, rinse the chicken parts and put them in a big ziploc.

Pour the brine into the bag along with the chicken and squish out all the excess air before sealing the bag.  This is much easier with a helper to hold the bag upright while you pour in the brine mixture.

I double-bagged it before putting it in the fridge for the night.

Now, the next day it’s time to put it all together:

  • Brined Chicken
  • Garlic, 3 or 4 cloves, minced
  • Yellow or White Onion, 1, sliced into thin rings
  • Olive Oil, 2 or 3 tablespoons
  • Tomato Paste, about half of a small can
  • Tarragon, 2 tablespoons fresh snipped or dry equivalent
  • Bay Leaves, 2 or 3
  • Black Pepper
  • Dry White Wine, 1 1/2 cups
  • Tarragon Vinegar, 1 cup
  • Heavy Cream, 3/4 cup

Preheat the oven to 375.

Over medium heat, heat just enough olive oil to cover the bottom of an oven-proof saute pan or a roaster pan.  Cook the garlic and onion until it begins to soften then add the paste, tarragon and bay leaves.

(Yes, I know roaster pans aren’t designed for the stove top.  Oh well.  There’s no way all my chicken would fit into a saute pan, even my giant one.  I could’ve done the stove top part in a saute pan then moved it to the roaster pan for baking then back to the saute pan for the sauce but I didn’t bother.  I’m lazy like that sometimes.)

Continue cooking and stirring for another couple of minutes.

Arrange the chicken in the pan, sprinkle generously with black pepper and add the wine.

Bake at 375 for about 45 minutes, or until the chicken is done.  If you’re using whole chickens this will take a bit longer.

Remove the chicken to a platter and cover it to keep it hot.  Skim the excess fat from the pan and then set it back on the stove over medium to medium-high heat.  Add the vinegar and let it simmer until it’s reduced by nearly half.

Turn off the heat and stir in the cream.  Pour a little sauce over the chicken and pass the rest separately.

Serve it up and enjoy!

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 BBQ Grail September 13, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Thanks for great post. I’ve included it in this week’s BBQ Grail 10 Posts Worth A Look.


2 Linda September 26, 2011 at 4:18 pm

I made this for company and it was an undisputed hit! I forgot the fresh tarragon at our house in the city, but dried worked out OK. I’m not so sure about the sauce – we simmered it for 10 minutes or so, but it hadn’t reduced by half, but by then we couldn’t wait to eat and I didn’t want the chicken to get cold. The sauce was still a bit vinegar-y, but delicious, thanks.


3 karenbove September 26, 2011 at 6:37 pm

I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Brining sure made for some moist and tender chicken, didn’t it? Feel free to reduce the vinegar or make any other changes you want. Recipes are mere suggestions anyway :)


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