Tarragon Chicken Fricasee

Long on flavor and short on time, this classic French dish makes a smart weeknight dinner. Bright with tarragon, it's a great way to welcome spring

INGREDIENTS:
2 lb chicken breast and thigh pieces
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 bay leaf, fresh preferred
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
YIELD: Serves 8
COURSE: Chicken & Other Birds
CUISINE: French
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Pat chicken dry and sprinkle all over with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté chicken in 2 batches, skin side down first, turning over once, until browned, 10 to 12 minutes total per batch. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons oil from skillet, then cook shallots, garlic, and bay leaf over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until shallots are softened, about 2 minutes. Add wine and bring to a boil. Stir in cream, broth, and 1 tablespoon tarragon, then add chicken, skin side up, and simmer, covered, until just cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer chicken with tongs to a platter and keep warm, loosely covered. If necessary, boil sauce until thickened slightly. Stir in lemon juice, remaining 1/2 tablespoon tarragon, and salt and pepper to taste. Discard bay leaf; pour sauce over chicken. Makes 4 servings.