Mushroom Tarragon Chicken with Pickled Walnuts

I’ve become a Periscope app addict. It’s so miraculous to see live stream of a place like Paris, be read Walt Whitman by an Irishman from Cork or be invited into someone’s kitchen in the United Kingdom while they attempt to cook with one hand holding their iPhone.  Several days ago my friend of two months called Simon (we met through the Irishman’s Walt Whitman Hour), hopped on Periscope to make this Tarragon Chicken with Pickled Walnuts.

I love tarragon, but pickled walnuts? What the heck is that? Opie’s Pickled Walnuts are nothing short of a delightful surprise. They are picked before the shell hardens on the walnut and pickled in malt vinegar. The meat is super lush and tender and the taste is slightly nutty and sweet. The walnuts are counterbalanced by the malt vinegar. I’m so surprised at this.. I’m quite hooked. I’m even contemplating hopping up to the British tea room that’s nearby to get one more jar. I just finished the first jar on my second preparation of this dish. Yes, I stopped writing this post to go back to the tea room to get one more bottle. They normally only carry these delightful little treats during high holidays. They are used on charcuterie and cheese plates, in casseroles or to top off a filet of beef.

Let’s get down to business, I’ve made this recipe twice over the last week. I love to tweak things just so: one for flavor, and the other for presentation purposes.

Mushroom Tarragon Chicken with Pickled Walnuts

  • 3 Boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts, sliced and flattened
  • 1 Tablespoon Tarragon, fresh and finely chopped
  • 1 Medium White Onion, thinly sliced
  • 16 ounces Cremini Mushrooms, sliced
  • 16 ounces Baby Portabella Mushrooms, sliced
  •  1/2 cup Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1/4 cup Heavy Cream
  • 4-6 Pickled Walnuts, drained and sliced
  • Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Handful Chives, fresh and finely chopped
  • Olive Oil and a few pats of butter for the pan

Ingredients

First, slice your chicken into thin cutlets, then take a mallet or a tenderizer and pound the chicken even and thin. This is going to give you equal cooking times for all your chicken. I used the tenderizer because this gives the sauce time to seep into your chicken while it cooks (kill two birds with one stone). Sprinkle kosher salt and pepper over both sides of the chicken, set aside.

Slice onions and mushrooms, chop the chives and tarragon. Place each into their own vessels and set aside. With care, slice the pickled walnuts. They are very delicate.

Pickled Walnuts
Sliced, drained, pickled walnuts
Mise en place
Mise en Place Mushroom Tarragon Chicken with Pickled Walnuts

Heat a large 3 quart sauté pan over medium high heat, once pan is hot, pour in a couple of glugs of olive oil, and pats of butter. When the oil and butter have melted add in the chicken, cook only for 3 minutes on each side and remove and set aside.

Pan Sear Chicken
Pan Sear Chicken
Pan Seared Chicken
Pan Seared Chicken

Sauté onion until tender, about 3-5 minutes, add in mushrooms, sauté until all the liquid has evaporated back into your onions and mushrooms.

Cook until all this delicious liquid has been absorbed back into the mushrooms and onions
Cook until all this delicious liquid has been absorbed back into the mushrooms and onions

The inside bottom of the pan may start to get golden brown (good flavor bits), carefully pour in wine,  deglaze, and reduce by half. Add in the fresh tarragon, stir, return reserved chicken to pan. Nestle chicken in and cover and allow it to cook for about 5-7 minutes until chicken is nearly finished. Uncover, turn the heat down to low (let’s not curdle the cream now, shall we) and add in the heavy cream and pickled sliced walnuts, stirring carefully as not to break up the walnuts. Taste and add salt and pepper as necessary.

Mushroom Tarragon Chicken with Pickled Walnuts
Mushroom Tarragon Chicken with Pickled Walnuts

What can I say about this dish but wow! Simon, you’ve got something quite creative on your hands here. He also suggested using Madeira wine in place of the Sauvignon Blanc. I’m tempted to add just a dash or two of the malt vinegar from the pickled walnuts for more depth. These pickled walnuts do not taste like briney olives even if they look a little like them. They are unlike anything I’ve ever had. The malt vinegar is tart but not as extreme as normal pickling flavor.

I plated this with some thinly sliced Cheesy Chive Red Potatoes and I topped both with a sprinkling of freshly chopped chives to give freshness to both parts of the dish.

Chef’s Note: I added mushrooms to Simon’s dish because they are like a spongy flavor vehicle, they absorb everything they are cooked with so you get wine, cream, the tang of the walnut, slightly anise flavor of the tarragon in each bite. I definitely feel that it improves the overall dish. If you don’t like mushrooms, leave them out. If you have no wine on hand, you can use chicken broth or vegetable broth as a substitute.

Mushroom Tarragon Chicken with Pickled Walnuts and cheesy chive red potatoes
Mushroom Tarragon Chicken with Pickled Walnuts and cheesy chive red potatoes

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