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According to Wikipedia, Tarragon is one of the four fines herbes of French cooking, and particularly suitable for chicken, lasagna, fish and egg dishes. Tarragon is also one of the main components of Béarnaise sauce. The rich and pleasant fragrance of German (or French) tarragon makes it a great addition to delicate poultry dishes, also herb sauces based on sour cream or mayonnaise or mushrooms. If you are very hesitant to try it, or seriously dislike it, replace it with rosemary….but remember: if you don’t flex that risk muscle once in a while, it will atrophy.

Ingredients (for about 4-6 servings):
8 pieces of free range chicken (4 thighs/4 drumsticks) or a whole roasted chicken (I can recommend Woolworths’).
500 ml chicken stock (Nomu is a great store-bought option!)
Bouquet garni (parsley/thyme/oregano/marjoram/black pepper/bay leaves)
Salt and pepper
2 tsp vinegar
1 onion, chopped
2 tsp sugar ( optional )
3 cloves garlic, chopped
500 g potabellini mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 pack (250g) smoked bacon rashers or good quality ham. chopped
1 tbsp flour
250 ml cream
2 tsp (10 ml) Dijon mustard (optional)
40 g butter
3 tbsp white/Black balsamic vinegar
5 tsp chopped fresh Tarragon, add more or less to taste (if you can’t find fresh tarragon substitute with Woolworths’ freeze dried tarragon)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 roll puff pastry

If you are using a roast chicken, skip this step. The roast chicken is a lovely option to ensure flavourful flesh and is also quick if you have limited time. Otherwise, bring the stock to the boil. Add the chicken, bouquet garni, vinegar, salt and pepper. Simmer on medium heat till the chicken is cooked and starts falling of the bones. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.

Meanwhile…In a large saucepan, heat the butter. Add onion and sugar and cook till The onion becomes translucent and slightly caramelized. Add the bacon, garlic and  mushrooms and fry for a further 5-6 minutes. Now add the flour, stir through and cook for another minute or so, then gradually add the balsamic and some of the stock the chicken cooked in (about a cup or so) and add the cream. Simmer and season with salt, pepper and tarragon.

Once cooled slightly, debone and shred the cooked chicken, reserving or discarding the skin according to your taste – skin off being healthier and more heart friendly! Add the chicken to the mushroom mixture. Once most of the liquid has cooked off and the sauce is thick and creamy, add the mustard and stir through. Remove from the heat and stir through most of the beaten eggs, keeping a little to brush over the pastry.

On a flour dusted surface, Roll out the puff pastry to about 3 mm thickness.
Spoon the chicken mixture into a greased ovenproof dish of about 25/30 cm diameter. Drape the pastry over the top and press down the edges. Cut off the overhanging pastry. Paint the pastry with the left over egg and bake at 180 degrees celsius for 30-40 minutes, till the pastry is golden brown and crisp. Serve it with salad and some sweet, cinnamon spiced pumpkin.

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