Milk-Poached Chicken with Tarragon and Peas

May 13, 2013
3 Ratings
  • Serves 4
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. —Caroline Wright

What You'll Need
  • 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Transcendancing
  • Rebecca Cherry
    Rebecca Cherry
  • walkie74
  • miriam
Before her diagnosis, Caroline wrote a book on cakes called Cake Magic!. She started developing a birthday cake using her gluten-free mix found in that book. Check out other recipes she’s developing for her new life—and the stories behind them—on her blog, The Wright Recipes. Her next book, Soup Club, is a collection of recipes she made for her underground soup club of vegan and grain-free soups she delivers every week to friends throughout Seattle's rainy winter.

11 Reviews

miriam January 15, 2022
What if you don't like garlic, but do like other alliums? Can you omit the garlic, or substitute something else?
Transcendancing August 5, 2014
I really liked this recipe. It's really quite simple to make for a weeknight and it's different as well. The milk broth is lovely and flavourful, delicate in texture and really satisfying. I served this with some pasta and steamed broccoli for an impromptu dinner party.
anne June 23, 2014
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.
Rebecca C. June 17, 2014
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.
J E. June 17, 2014
Perhaps the worst recipe I have ever tried. After one taste my wife and I threw it out.
Cooking C. August 16, 2013
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.
Rebecca C. July 8, 2013
other than the mess made, is it all right if the milk boils once the lid goes on?
walkie74 June 19, 2013
Oh, and you're saving all the strained liquid too, by the way...forgot that part...
walkie74 June 19, 2013
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.
marija June 11, 2013
I too would like to make this but unsure about 3rd step...sounds delicious though.
Astates May 28, 2013
I like this idea but the instructions confuse me. Maybe a little more detail? I am not an experienced cook. The recipe sounds wonderful.