Chicken with Tarragon and Vermouth

I got home from a night out with the girls recently to find my husband had lit the fire. In June. So here’s a recipe for those summer evenings when you don’t want to eat anything too autumnal/wintry in flavour but it’s chilly enough to need a jumper.

I used white vermouth in the sauce. You can use white wine, or a dry sherry, Madeira or cider if that’s what you have to hand, but (and I think it was Yotam Ottolenghi who defined this in something I read the other day) the vermouth gives it a slight bitter-sweetness and a floral quality that adds a little more complexity and depth.

We ate it with baby new potatoes and French beans.

Chicken with Tarragon and Vermouth

Image of chicken with tarragon and vermouth


1kg chicken thighs (or thighs and drumsticks), skin on, bone in, preferably free range

2 tbsp oil

1 onion, peeled and chopped

1 tbsp plain flour

Large wine glass of white vermouth

250ml chicken stock

2 tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped, plus a few sprigs to garnish

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Splash of double cream


Heat the oil in a large, deep frying pan or casserole and fry the chicken until it is browned all over and the skin is crisp. Remove and set aside.

Add the onions to the pan and cook until soft and golden. Stir in the flour and cook for a minute or two then pour in the vermouth, stir, and let it bubble up and thicken.

Gradually add the chicken stock with half the chopped tarragon and cook for a few minutes until the sauce thickens. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste, remembering that the sauce will reduce and the saltiness will intensify.

Put the chicken back in the pan, skin side up, along with any juices that have run. Simmer gently for about 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.

Remove the chicken and keep warm. Add the remaining chopped tarragon and a splash of double cream, stir and reduce until the sauce reaches the consistency you like. Check the seasoning, put the chicken back in the pan and gently re-heat.

Serve garnished with the reserved sprigs of tarragon.

8 thoughts on “Chicken with Tarragon and Vermouth

  1. I used to know someone who lit a fire every single evening. She said it was the focal point of the room and much better than telly. She moved to Australia but I like to think she keeps that tradition going… a fire crackling while you scoff your chicken sounds idyllic.

  2. Well, I do live in Australia and, at the moment, it is freezing! 2C this morning and some 19C later on today . . . . and for us that is freezing 🙂 ! Would so like my daily mid-thirties back !! But love the recipe: thighs with vermouth and tarragon: what wonderful style . . . simple but appetizing !!!!

    • That is cold by Aussie standards! Thanks, I’m glad you like the recipe – something of a classic revisited. Enjoy your weekend – wrap up warm! Lx

  3. If not for the guilt involved (on about a million levels), I’d do the Richard Nixon thing and turn down the air conditioner setting so I could light a fire every day. 🙂 That chicken is positively gorgeous, no matter what the temperature outside.

    • That is so kind, thank you. You and my husband would clearly get on well, by the way. The only thing that stops him having a fire every day is that he’s the one who has to chop the wood. 🙂

  4. on vermouth: apart from its flavour (which I think disappears rather quickly to be honest, like wine).. the advantage of using it is that, once opened, it stays in perfect conditions almost indefintely, contrary to wine- I almost always use vermouth these days, in both sweet and savoury dishes
    tarragon: beautiful herb: I use it with potatoes, cooked in heavily salted water and dressed with butter… really special

    • Really? I thought the vermouth flavours hung around nicely here, but it’s not cooked for as long as a normal stew, of course. You’re right, it does keep better than wine (although we never have one of those hanging around for long enough for it to go off). Tarragon with buttered potatoes? I’m on it!

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