Sunday, June 8, 2008

Gluten Free Tarragon Chicken with Red Peppers and Asparagus

I’ll be honest and admit that before I began to eat a gluten free diet, I rarely cooked with herbs and spices. I’ve always been big on fresh chopped garlic and onions, and basic spices like salt and pepper, but nothing more exotic.

Since I began to learn about cooking for celiac and gluten intolerance, I have gotten to know and love my herb and spice cupboard… enough to understand why spices represented riches as precious as precious metal long ago.

Tarragon, also known as Artemisia dracunculus, is pretty darn cool. A whole variety of folklore surrounds tarragon – for example, some say that the ancient Greeks used it to cure toothache since it has natural anesthetic properties. In the Middle Ages it was called Dragon’s Wart and used as a pharmaceutical for snakebite, supposedly since it’s roots looked like snakes.

Unlike other herbs, tarragon was not used for cooking until fairly recently – first in Southern Russia. This may be why I love it so much, since my family on my mother’s side hails from the same geographic area. The taste of tarragon relaxes me greatly and I savor its bittersweet flavor. In any event, this herb was brought ca. the 1500s from Russian kitchens into English ones, and I suppose the rest is history.

Most tarragon sold for cooking today is grown in France, and many recipes specifically call for French tarragon. If you don't have the French kind though, don't worry. I believe that any tarragon is better than no tarragon!

Gluten Free Chicken Tarragon with Red Peppers and Asparagus
Adapted from Alex Haas’ Every Day Low Carb Cooking

1 package organic chicken thighs (6 pieces)
2 teaspoons tarragon
Organic Grapeseed oil (a few tablespoons, as needed)
1 cup Sauvignon Blanc
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 large red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 large handful of thin asparagus stems
1 ½ teaspoon "Better Than Boullion" Chicken base
3-4 tablespoons heavy cream
Finely chopped garlic

Optional: Dijon mustard to taste

How It Works:

In a deep saucepan, sauté chicken thighs in grape seed oil over medium high heat until the meat turns white. Sprinkle with half of the crushed black pepper while cooking, and turn meat over so that it is cooked evenly on both sides. Add Sauvignon Blanc, chopped red pepper, chicken base and half of the tarragon.

When it boils, reduce heat to medium low and simmer covered for 30 minutes. Add cream, remaining tarragon and (if you are mustard fan) Dijon mustard to taste (no more than 1 tablespoon). Let it simmer uncovered 10 minutes until it thickens.

About 10 minutes before your chicken will be done, begin to sauté your asparagus stems and chopped garlic in grape seed oil.

Serve tarragon chicken and asparagus on a bed of long grain white rice cooked in chicken broth with whole garlic cloves.

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