One of my first cooking jobs, when I returned from France, was working for the formidable Penny Ide-Smith. I say formidable, she really was, and by that, I mean driven, ambitious, fiercely hard-working, and an exceptionally good chef. I think, without even realizing it, Penny gave me the experience I needed to thrive in a tough male-dominated industry.

So, this is a thank-you to Penny for giving me an opportunity to learn and cook. I will always be grateful to you for believing in me. This recipe will always remind me of working with Penny. It’s such a delicious combination of flavors and it celebrates tarragon, which in my mind is always a good thing. This dish works well throughout the year, although citrus always brings the sun to cold days.–Emily Scott

2 bowls of chicken tenders in a cream sauce with slices of orange and tarragon leaves, with a knife and fork.

Chicken with Orange, Cream, and Tarragon

5 / 2 votes
A bright, light chicken dish that sings with the anise flavor of fresh tarragon and sweet, juicy oranges. Perfect summertime fodder for when the sun is shining.
David Leite
CourseMains
CuisineBritish
Servings4 servings
Calories364 kcal
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time1 hour

Ingredients 

  • 4 (2 lbs) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2-inch (37-mm) strips
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more if needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more if needed
  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz) unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 ounce fresh tarragon leaves*, roughly chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • Scant 2/3 cup store-bought or homemade chicken stock, plus more if needed
  • Scant 1 cup fresh orange juice, plus more if needed
  • 2 navel oranges, peeled and segmented, juices reserved
  • Scant 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions 

  • Pat the chicken strips dry with paper towels. In a medium bowl, combine the flour with 1/2 teaspoon of each salt and pepper, mix well. Add the chicken strips to the bowl and toss to coat in the seasoned flour.
  • In a medium skillet over medium heat, warm the butter and oil until the butter melts and begins to sizzle. Working in batches, add the chicken strips and fry until brown on all sides, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Stir in most of the tarragon, reserving a little for garnish.
  • Pour in the stock and orange juice, adding more, if needed, to cover the chicken. Simmer gently until the chicken is cooked through to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C), about 10 minutes.
  • Using a slotted spoon, lift the chicken out of the skillet, arrange in a shallow serving dish along with the orange segments. Keep warm.
  • Continue to simmer the stock until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the cream and reduce again until you have a thick sauce, about 5 minutes more. Taste, season, and add some of the reserved juices from the orange segments if it needs to be sharpened.
  • Spoon the sauce over the chicken and garnish with the reserved tarragon.

Notes

*What is tarragon?

Tarragon, a leafy green herb, can be quite divisive among eaters. It has a flavor that’s reminiscent of licorice or anise, and a lot of diners find that they either love it or hate it.
Is there a substitute for tarragon? If you like the licorice flavor that tarragon provides, you can use chervil or fennel fronds. If you’re looking for a sub because you’re in the anti-tarragon party, try basil or marjoram. 
Sea and Shore

Adapted From

Sea & Shore

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Nutrition

Serving: 1 servingCalories: 364 kcalCarbohydrates: 32 gProtein: 6 gFat: 25 gSaturated Fat: 14 gMonounsaturated Fat: 9 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 71 mgSodium: 325 mgFiber: 3 gSugar: 11 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2021 Emily Scott. Photo © 2021 Kim Lightbody. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

As a youngster, the sound of the Good Humor Ice Cream truck in the neighborhood had me salivating for an orange Creamsicle, so this recipe for chicken with orange, cream, and tarragon triggered those memories for me. That noted, it’s more reminiscent of the chicken goujons I would get in pubs in the UK, as the wonderful licorice hint from the tarragon brings forth that savory element.  

An oval white platter covered with strips of chicken breast, orange slices, cream sauce, and tarragon, with serving utensils.

I used about 7 tablespoons of fresh chopped tarragon in my sauce and saved 1 tablespoon for the garnish, however, I did find I needed to add another 1/3 cup each of stock and OJ to cover the chicken in my skillet. I used a 12” skillet, and anything smaller will be difficult to simmer all the strips at the same time for the final cook.

One ends up with very tender and juicy chicken goujons, and the cream sauce is a wonderful pairing, with a subtle orange note that lingers behind the tarragon. My better half gave this a 10 out of 10! I paired it with a vegan chickpea and orzo salad, as the fresh onion and the acid from the lemon sauce paired quite nicely with the cream sauce.

This recipe for chicken with orange, cream, and tarragon results in soft flavors–not the sharp flavors of a Chinese orange chicken dish that my testers expected when I announced we were having orange chicken. The result was an inviting summer evening meal that is unique enough to qualify for a splendid weekend dinner.  

I sliced the chicken breasts in half cross-wise to create even thickness for cooking.  I was conservative with the amount of tarragon as I don’t use that herb very often so I minced up 2 tablespoons but added just 1- 1/2 tsp in the sauce and then sprinkled another 1- 1/2 tsp on the finished dish. The fresh leaves added complexity with a hint of anise flavor in the background but didn’t dominate the flavor. I’d add the full amount noted in the recipe next time as the cream seems to mellow the flavor. It seemed a shame not to use the orange zest so I adjusted the flavor of the finished sauce with the zest of one orange instead of adding the reserved orange juice.

I served the chicken with jasmine rice pilaf and steamed green beans seasoned simply with olive oil and lemon pepper. My testers voted this a “make again” dish but requested double the sauce next time so overall it was a hit! 

What’s not to like in these ingredients- chicken, orange, cream and tarragon? Plus, one pot dish, and no oven. I served the chicken with corn on the cob and salad and the sauce was so good!

But my most favorite thing about this recipe was that I tried your recipe for slow cooker chicken stock and am now a true believer. Without a doubt the easiest and most delicious stock I’ve ever made. I have now told every cook I know that this is the only way to make stock. And since I have slow cooker bags the only thing I had to wash with the lid. So easy, so good. Many thanks for this keeper.

Looking for an easy, delicious dish that comes together in about 45 minutes? Then, this chicken with orange, cream and tarragon is the recipe for you. Even using out-of-season oranges, it was a winner. I am looking forward to citrus season and using all kinds of oranges – Cara-cara, blood, in addition to navel. The technique is straightforward – brown the chicken and create the sauce and you’re finished. You may want to increase the number of orange segments you add. This is definitely a recipe I will make again and again. I served this with rice and garlicky greens.

I cannot tell you how much I love the flavor of tarragon, especially with chicken, so I was overjoyed to see a recipe featuring my favorite herb. I had to try it. I was also intrigued by the combination of orange in the dish. Every element of this chicken with orange, cream and tarragon harmonized so well. It was truly spectacular and tasted so fresh and herbaceous.

The chicken did take a while to cook because I pan fried it in three batches (and I did not see until later that I did not have to fully cook through during the browning, so I cut down the time the chicken cooked in the sauce by half.) The pop of sweet/acid from the orange was such a nice counter to the creamy sauce. The dish takes a little patience, but it is well worth the effort and makes a nice presentation platter.




About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.


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4 Comments

    1. Lee, I think you could, however, your sauce would be quite a bit thicker so you wouldn’t need to simmer it as long at the end, and I’d suggest whisking a little bit of the pan sauce into the yogurt to loosen it before adding the yogurt to the skillet so that it doesn’t just split apart into little clumps. Keep in mind that the flavor will be a bit more tart with yogurt than cream. If you try it, do let us know how it turns out!