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As it cooks, this very easy dish makes its own delicious sauce a combination of the roast chicken juices and the deeply savoury tomato liquor. The tarragon is much more than just a background herb here. Its distinctive aniseed flavour is quite dominant, holding its own with the chicken and tomatoes, and rounding out the dish perfectly
Preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas 5. Season the chicken pieces well all over with salt and pepper. You’ll probably need to sear them in two batches. Heat the olive oil in large non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat, add the chicken and sear, turning the pieces several times, until they are golden brown all over. Transfer, skin side up, to an oven dish or roasting tin.
Now, to deglaze the frying pan, pour in the wine and let it bubble over the heat, stirring well to scrape up any bits of caramelised chicken from the bottom. Pour the liquid from the pan into the oven dish (but not directly over the chicken). Add the lemon juice and give the chicken skin an extra scattering of salt and pepper. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
Take the dish from the oven, uncover and add the tomatoes, nestling them, cut side up as far as possible, among the chicken pieces. Roast, uncovered, for a further 20�25 minutes, or until the chicken pieces are cooked through and the tomatoes are soft and blistered. Scatter over most of the tarragon and toss to mix. Rest for a few minutes so the tarragon flavour infuses the juices.
Sprinkle over the remaining chopped tarragon and the dish is ready to serve. It's good with new potatoes, mash, rice or bread.
If you can’t lay your hands on fresh tarragon, try this with flat-leaf parsley – using about three times as much. Or try roughly shredded sorrel leaves. In each case, the effect is quite different, but still delicious.
Hint: The dish also works really well with pheasant in place of chicken.
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