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Sauted Chicken with Mussels, Tarragon and Chardonnay

A delicious duo of chicken and mussels from Rick Stein. The sauted chicken is met with fresh mussels and cooked together with tarragon and Chardonnay wine.


This is just a simple sauted chicken dish hut live mussels are added right at the end so that there is only time for them just to open in the pan before the dish is served. The cooking liquor from the mussels gives a final salty tang to the tarragon sauce. I took such an aversion to the phrase ‘surf and turf’ when I first heard it in the early Eighties that it took me over ten years to accept the fact that a combination of meat and seafood can often be excellent.

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1 chicken, weighing about 1.5 kg (3½ lb)
1 tbsp olive oil
50g / 2oz butter
2 tbsp tarragon vinegar or white wine vinegar
300ml / 10 fl oz chicken stock
300ml / 10 fl oz Chardonnay wine
25g / 1oz fresh tarragon
4 garlic cloves, peeled
900g / 2lb mussels, cleaned
300ml / 10 fl oz double cream
Juice of ½ lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Joint the chicken into 8 pieces: to do this, pull one leg away from the body and cut through the skin, down towards where the thighbone joins the main carcass. Twist the leg so that the ball and socket joint is exposed and cut through it to detach the leg. Repeat on the other side. Cut each leg in half through the joint and cut off and discard the feet bones from the end of each drumstick. Now cut through the skin down the centre of the breastbone and ease back the breast meat slightly. Cut along either side of the breastbone using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife. Open up the bird and remove the breast and wing joints by cutting horizontally through the rib bones. Cut the breast and wing joint diagonally in half so that each piece has an equal amount of breast meat. Cut off the tips of the wings. The backbone, breastbone, wing tips and feet bones can be discarded or used to make stock.

Season the chicken pieces with a little salt and pepper. Heat the oil and butter in a large, deep frying pan, add the chicken pieces and fry, skin-side down, for 10 minutes or until well browned. Turn over and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Transfer the breast meat portions to a plate and continue to fry the leg and thigh portions for another 5 minutes. This means that all the pieces of chicken will be well browned without the breast meat being overcooked.

Remove the remaining chicken from the pan and pour away the excess fat. Add the vinegar to the pan and boil until it has almost all evaporated. Add the chicken stock and wine and boil until reduced to half its original volume.

Return the chicken to the pan and add half the tarragon with its stalks and the whole garlic cloves. Partly cover with a lid and simmer very gently for 30 minutes, until the chicken is tender and cooked through.

Add the mussels to the chicken in the pan, cover and cook over a high heat for about 3 minutes, until the mussels have opened. Discard any that remain closed. Lift the chicken and mussels out of the pan with a slotted spoon and place in a warmed serving dish; cover and keep warm. Strain the cooking liquid to remove the tarragon and garlic, then return it to the pan and bring back to the boil. Boil until reduced by half, then taste; it should be really well flavoured. Chop the remaining tarragon leaves, setting aside a few sprigs for garnish.

Add the cream to the pan and boil for 2-3 minutes, until the sauce thickens slightly. Stir in the lemon juice and chopped tarragon and season with a little salt and pepper if necessary. Simmer for I minute to release some of the flavour from the tarragon, then pour the sauce over the chicken and mussels. Serve garnished with the reserved tarragon sprigs and accompanied by a tossed green salad and boiled new potatoes.

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