Chicken with Sherry Vinegar and Tarragon Sauce

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This is my adaptation of a classic French dish called poulet au vinaigre.


1 x 3½ lb (1.75 kg) chicken, jointed into 8 pieces, or you could use 4 bone-in chicken breast portions5 fl oz (150 ml) sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 shallots, peeled and left whole
4 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
15 fl oz (425 ml) medium-dry Amontillado sherry
1 heaped tablespoon crème fraîche
salt and freshly milled black pepper


First of all, heat the oil in the frying pan and season the chicken joints with salt and pepper. Then, when the oil begins to shimmer, fry the chicken (in two batches) to brown well: remove the first batch to a plate while you tackle the second. Each joint needs to be a lovely golden-brown colour. When the second batch is ready, remove it to the plate to join the rest. Then add the shallots to the pan, brown these a little, and finally add the garlic cloves to colour slightly.

Now turn the heat down, return the chicken pieces to the pan, scatter the tarragon leaves all over, then pour in the vinegar and sherry. Let it all simmer for a bit, then turn the heat to a very low setting, so that the whole thing barely bubbles, for 45 minutes. Halfway through, turn the chicken pieces over to allow the other sides to sit in the sauce.

When they’re ready, remove them to a warm serving dish (right side up) along with the shallots and garlic. The sauce will by now have reduced and concentrated, so all you do is whisk the crème fraîche into it, taste it and season as required, then pour the sauce all over the chicken and scatter with the sprigs of tarragon. This is lovely served with tiny new potatoes tossed in herbs and some fresh shelled peas.

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