Monday, July 20, 2009

Tarragon-my forgotten herb

In the past, I have not had the best of luck growing Tarragon. Every year I would buy a new plant and then it would disappear by the following growing season. But recently it has seemed to thrive in my garden. It also has grown prolifically in the Herb Garden at the park.(This is part of the Master Gardener's Arboretum. Two of my Master Gardener Friends and I have been working and developing the Herb Garden portion.) So I felt it was a sign, I decided to give it another try! In the picture,Tarragon is the plant spilling out into the path, behind it is catmint.( this picture is form the Herb Garden at the Arboretium.)

I had a recipe I wanted to try that had Tarragon in it, so I picked what little I had and made the soup. Wow oh wow, I had forgotten how wonderfully fragrant tarragon is while it is cooking. When I put it into the soup the whole kitchen smelled heavenly!!

The growing conditions at the Arboretum are perfect for Tarragon. It is full sun with well draining and fertile soil. At the park it is about 2-3 feet tall which is normal, mine at home is about 8 inches tall.

The most important fact about Tarragon is that you want to buy the French Tarragon, not the Russian. The French can not be grown from seed, you will have to buy a small plant. But it is so worth it. To test the tarragon, pinch off a small bit of the leaf, it should taste of anise. In fact when my friend and I tasted a bit at the Park, we were both amazed at how strongly it tasted of anise.It was easy to see why in ancient times it was used to freshen breathe.

My favorite thing to do with Tarragon is to make a herb vinegar with the leaves. When making Tarragon Vinegar, I will use a good white wine vinegar for the base, other herbs do great with just a white vinegar but not Tarragon. This Herb vinegar is great for sauces and for Fish!

Use this herb sparingly as it is strong and bold! I used way too much in my soup, as that was all you could taste. Live and learn.

This recipe is from a cookbook my sister in law gave me from England. It has wonderful recipes, including this recipe for Tarragon and Chicken with Peaches. I have changed this recipe a bit, but it is a hit time after time.

Chicken with Tarragon and Peaches

4 chicken leg portions( I use chicken breast..or thighs)

3 oz butter

6 fresh peaches

3/4 pint Sauce a la creme

3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

salt and pepper

Oven temp 350 degrees

Preheat the oven , Season the chicken with salt and pepper and saute the chicken in butter for 10 to 12 minutes. Peel and slice the peaches and lay them in an ovenproof dish. Place the chicken pieces on top of the peaches, heat the sauce gently and stir in the chopped tarragon. Check the seasoning and pour over the chicken. Bake in the Oven for 10-12 minutes and sprinkle with more careful don't overdo!

Recipe from "The Herb Cookbook"

by Rosamond Richardson

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