Tarragon is one of the cool weather herbs and among the earliest to come up in the garden each year. So it seems quite natural that the first salad of the summer season should be liberally spiked with fresh tarragon flavor.
Those of us without a garden should have no trouble finding fresh tarragon in supermarkets and at greengrocers, either in sprigs that have been cut from hydroponic plants or in small individual plants that can even thrive on a city window sill provided they are not overwatered.
Only a few sprigs of tarragon are required to obtain the 1 1/2 tablespoons of fresh chopped leaves that act as the principal flavoring agent for this salad. Another fresh herb may be substituted if the flavor of tarragon is not to your taste. TARRAGON CHICKEN SALAD
2 1/2 pounds skinned, boned chicken breasts
Salt, freshly ground pepper
6 medium shallots, peeled
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped tarragon leaves
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Several dashes hot pepper sauce
2 medium stalks celery, strings removed
6 medium green onions, roots removed
Adjust oven rack to lowest position.
Cut sheet of foil 30 inches long. Place chicken breasts on half of foil. Fold foil over chicken, gently pressing to expel excess air. Double-fold edges to make rectangular, airtight pouch. Place pouch on baking sheet and bake at 450 degrees until pouch puffs or no longer than 10 minutes. Carefully slit foil to allow steam to escape, then open package.
Cool, then thoroughly chill chicken breasts. Cut into 1-inch chunks. Spread chunks of chicken on baking sheet and season well with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate.
Insert metal blade in dry food processor. With motor running, drop shallots into machine and process until minced. Transfer shallots to large mixing bowl. Combine tarragon, mayonnaise, whipping cream, vinegar, mustard, Worcestershire, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 3/8 teaspoon pepper and hot pepper sauce in container. Process until smooth, then add to mixing bowl.
Change to medium (4-mm) slicing disc. Insert celery upright in food chute and slice with gentle push. With motor running, rest green onions against side of food chute and dangle-slice bottoms by lowering onions into chute (do not put fingers in food chute). Reserve green tops for another use.
Add celery, sliced green onion and chicken to mixing bowl. Toss thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate salad at least 2 hours or overnight, then adjust seasoning to taste. Serve chilled. Makes 8 servings.