Chicken Breasts in Tarragon Cream

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 1/2 pounds)
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 t. extra-virgin olive oil
1 small shallot, finely chopped (about 3 tablespoons)
1/4 C. dry vermouth or dry white wine
3/4 C. heavy cream
2 to 3 T. coarsely chopped fresh French tarragon
1 t. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Season both sides of chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large (10- to 12-inch) skillet over medium-high heat. Using tongs, carefully lower chicken breasts into pan and cook them about 1 minute on each side just until they begin to brown slightly. Transfer the still-raw chicken to a plate.

Reduce the heat under the skillet to low. Add shallot and cook, stirring constantly, until softened but not browned, less than 1 minute. Add the vermouth and cook for 30 seconds, then add the cream and half the tarragon. Return chicken breasts to the pan and adjust the heat so that the cream gently simmers. Cover and cook until chicken is firm and just cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes. To check for doneness, cut into the thickest part of a breast with a paring knife. There should be no sign or pink or translucence.

Transfer chicken breasts to a warmed serving platter or individual dinner plates. The sauce should be thick enough to lightly coat a spoon. If it is too thin, continue to simmer for about 1 minute and it will thicken. Stir in the remaining tarragon and lemon juice, then taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve right away with buttered egg noodles.

Makes 4 servings



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