Chicken, mushroom + tarragon cassoulet

Chicken, mushroom + tarragon cassoulet

A Lot on Her Plate
Helen Cathcart

I came up with this recipe while my boyfriend and I were on a road trip down the West Coast of the US. We’d driven from Oregon to California in relentless torrential rain and were hungry when we got to Eureka. The weather had put a bit of a dampener on the trip, but thankfully the first grocery store we stopped at had some wonderful chanterelles and corn-fed chicken, so I busied myself making up a comforting recipe for a rainy summer’s day in our tiny rented studio flat. We ate it with a bottle of fantastic Californian zinfandel, and ended up feeling thankful for our rainy night in.


Quantity Ingredient
3 medium tomatoes, sliced
or 1 large handful cherry tomatoes, halved
extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
25g butter
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 small shallots, finely chopped
handful fresh tarragon, roughly chopped, plus extra to garnish
100g chanterelles, little ones whole and bigger ones broken up
2 large portobello mushrooms, cleaned gently with kitchen paper if necessary, sliced
50g chestnut or button mushrooms, cleaned gently with kitchen paper if necessary, halved
bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves, finely chopped
1-2 teaspoons white wine or tarragon vinegar
8 free-range chicken thighs, skin on
150ml white wine
80g kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
500-700ml chicken stock or water
400g tinned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Place the tomatoes in a roasting tray, coat them in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 15–20 minutes, until they’re concentrated and aromatic. While they’re roasting, heat a large heavy-based frying pan or ovenproof casserole, add the butter, garlic and half the chopped shallots, and cook for about 2 minutes, until they start to soften. Add the tarragon, mushrooms, a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are tinged golden brown, and have started to release their moisture and crisp around the edges. Depending on the size of your frying pan, you may have to work in batches. Transfer to a bowl, and remove the tomatoes from the oven.
  2. Stir the chopped parsley and 1 teaspoon of vinegar into the mushrooms, and taste for seasoning/acidity. You want to bring out the mushrooms’ flavour, not mask it, so add a dash more vinegar if you think it needs it.
  3. Heat another tablespoon of olive oil in the frying pan you cooked the mushrooms in, over a medium-high heat. Add the chicken thighs, skin-side down, and fry until golden, turning them once or twice to brown them evenly. The skin should be crispy on each side. Transfer to a plate. Add the remaining shallots to the pan and fry for 4 minutes, until soft.
  4. Deglaze the pan with the white wine so that it picks up the crusty goodness from browning the chicken, and place the chicken back in the pan, along with the olives. Pour in the water or stock until it’s covering the chicken and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 35 minutes.
  5. Add the roasted tomatoes and stir, then add the beans. Bring back to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. After 5 minutes add the mushrooms and shallots, and simmer for 7–10 minutes, until the sauce has reduced and gone a bit creamy from the beans. Garnish with tarragon leaves and serve with a crisp, sharply-dressed salad and crusty bread for dunking.
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