Tarragon Chicken with Prunes Recipe
At the turn of the 16th century, King Henry IV was one of the most popular kings France had ever known and he loved his subjects in return. Once he swore "If God keeps me, I will make sure that there is no working man in my kingdom who does not have the means to have a chicken in the pot every Sunday!"
Unfortunately, God didn't keep him. He was assasinated for his tolerant religious views by a fanatical Catholic. Yet his wish for his people largely came true. When my husband was growing up in Paris, there was always a chicken on the table after mass on Sunday. Usually the chicken was roasted whole and his father made French fries. But sometimes his mother got involved and made chicken with prunes. Poulet aux pruneaux was the first dish he ever made me, and we've carried on the tradition ever since.
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- 1 whole chicken, cut up
- 1 cup (250 g.) whole plump prunes
- 2 red onions
- 1 tablespoon tarragon
- 1 large garlic clove (optional)
- 2 cups chicken stock
- salt and pepper to taste
- Rub the salt, pepper and dried tarragon onto the chicken. Fry the chicken to brown.
- While the chicken is browning on one side, chop red onions and sauté separately in another pan. Mince garlic and add to onions. Sauté until translucent.
- When browned on one side, turn over to brown on other side. Tuck prunes in between the pieces. Add the onions.
- When golden brown on both sides, add chicken stock, cover and simmer. Total cooking time should be about 1 hour.
Rabbit can easily be substituted for the chicken if you're not squeamish like me.
Prunes: anti-oxidant miracle
A food's antioxidant properties are measured on what's called the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) scale. Research has shown that high-Orac foods boost the body's antioxidant capabilities by 10-25 percent. Prunes rate highest on the scale. More than twice as high as the next runner up (raisins).
We usually make this simple dish with rice or new potatoes, but turnips are another nice option. Their slight bitterness is offset by the sweetness of the prunes.
You won't want a fruit dessert with this main course, but anything nutty works well. Try my chewy hazelnut cake for instance. Better yet, keep it in the family and try my mother in law's golden almond "financier" cakes.