Milk-Poached Chicken with Tarragon and Peas

By • May 13, 2013 • 9 Comments



Author Notes: I don’t love boneless, skinless chicken breasts. They rank among the ingredients that, as a recipe developer by profession, I see well enough in my work life that I would rarely — if ever — bring home in a grocery sack of my own choosing. Poaching chicken breasts in milk, however, is a very simple way to enhance the cut’s texture and flavor through tender, gentle cooking that ends with tucking it into a bed of noodles. Watch the milk carefully to ensure it never visibly simmers — the key to this recipe’s success is taking usually quick-cooking ingredients and slowing down the tempo to find their softer side.CarolineWright

Serves 4

  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1 pound)
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed with flat side of knife
  • 4 strips lemon zest
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 sprigs fresh tarragon, divided
  • 4 cups wide egg noodles
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 cups frozen peas, thawed
  1. In a medium saucepan, place chicken breasts in a single layer. Scatter garlic cloves and zest over top, and pour milk over. Season with salt and pepper. Scatter 2 sprigs tarragon over top.
  2. Heat milk until almost to simmering (but bubbles do not break surface of milk) over medium heat. Cover and cook until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place a mesh strainer over a large bowl, and cook noodles according to package directions. When chicken is cooked through, remove chicken to a cutting board.
  3. While chicken rests, pour milk mixture through strainer (discard solids). Remove about 1/4 cup milk mixture and whisk into sour cream and mustard in a small bowl. Return sour cream mixture back into broth with leaves from remaining tarragon sprigs and peas. Thinly slice chicken and serve with peas and milky broth over egg noodles.

Comments (9) Questions (0)

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about 1 month ago anne

Oh my god. It just isn't that difficult. You blanch the breasts, you temper the sour cream mix, then add it back to the milk, add peas and cooked egg noodles. Seriously. Sometimes this site frightens me.

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about 1 month ago Rebecca Cherry

It's been a while since I made this but, judging from the comments before mine (and J Eric's), it seems that something went amiss from table to tablet. Based on the ingredients and in theory, it seems delicious (that's what attracted me to it); perhaps, a redo of the recipe by Caroline or, a makeover of the dish, itself, by Merrill and Co. is in order.

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about 1 month ago J Eric Humphreys

Perhaps the worst recipe I have ever tried. After one taste my wife and I threw it out.

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11 months ago Cooking coach

The recipe calls for 4 sprigs of tarragon, two used during the poaching process and the remaining two added at the end. The most important lesson one can learn as a cook is to read and retread a recipe. Step three is not confusing if you read the recipe properly.

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about 1 year ago Rebecca Cherry

other than the mess made, is it all right if the milk boils once the lid goes on?

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about 1 year ago walkie74

Oh, and you're saving all the strained liquid too, by the way...forgot that part...

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about 1 year ago walkie74

It looks like you strain the liquid left after cooking the chicken, saving the tarragon sprigs. Then, in a separate bowl, you put the sour cream and mustard. Then you whisk 1/4 cup of the liquid you just strained into the bowl with the sour cream and mustard. Pour all of that back into the pan, toss the tarragon sprigs back in, add the peas. Reheat the sauce while you slice up the chicken. Throw the cooked egg noodles in a bowl with the chicken on top, and pour the sauce over it. Then eat yourself into a coma.

Hope that helps. At least, that's how I'm reading it.

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about 1 year ago marija

I too would like to make this but unsure about 3rd step...sounds delicious though.

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about 1 year ago Astates

I like this idea but the instructions confuse me. Maybe a little more detail? I am not an experienced cook. The recipe sounds wonderful.