Full Recipe

Poached Chicken with Tarragon Sauce

Poached Chicken with Tarragon Sauce

The inspiration for this dish came from the one we ate at ‘Aux Lyonnais’ back in the 1980s. Poached chicken may sound a little but boring the sauce going with this is anything but boring – it’s delicate, full of flavour and easy. As well you’ll have a good chicken stock to keep and freeze for use at a later date.

  • Ingredients (serves 4):
  • 1 chicken
  • For the stock – 2 carrots cut in half
  • 1 large onion studded with cloves
  • 1-2 sticks of celery cut in half
  • 1 leek roughly cut up
  • Water or chicken stock to cover the chicken
  • A small bunch of parsley, sprig of fresh thyme, 2 bay leaves
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • For the sauce – 20g butter
  • A good tbsp of flour
  • 6 tbsps fresh cream
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt and white pepper to taste
  • 2 tbps of fresh French tarragon leaves


Place a chicken in a pot just large enough to hold it. Add all the stock ingredients.

Cover with cold water or chicken stock.

Poach the chicken, covered, over a very low heat for 1-1½ hours, skimming if necessary. The cooking time will depend on the size of the chicken.

About 15 minutes before the chicken is cooked start the sauce.

Melt the butter in a pot and stir in the flour. Cook for a minute. Take off the heat and gradually add about 300ml of the hot poaching stock. Stir constantly to avoid lumps. Return the pot to the stove and bring the sauce to the boil and stir till it thickens.

Gently cook for a few minutes longer. Then add the fresh cream. Season to taste.

In a medium sized bowl mix the egg yolks, lemon juice and nutmeg.

Very slowly pour the hot sauce into the egg mixture, stirring constantly. You need to do this carefully so the eggs don’t scramble.

Pour everything back into the pot and heat the sauce. It can bubble slightly but not boil otherwise it will curdle.

Chop 1 tbsp of the tarragon and add to the sauce.

Finish by adding a knob of butter. This gives a nice glossiness.

Remove the chicken from the stock and cut it into pieces. I like to take off the skin.

Serve the pieces on individual plates on plain boiled rice, a little sauce and sprinkle over the rest of the tarragon. Serve the rest of the sauce separately. I also like to serve this with sautéed spinach (pg…)

Note: Make sure you use French tarragon as it has the best flavour