This delicious cornichon chicken, flavoured with tarragon and mustard. This is a company-worthy dish that’s also easy enough to enjoy at home any time!
If you are not familiar with French cornichons. they are smaller and crunchier than dill pickles, with a distinctive acidity that brings a unique and slightly sour taste to dishes (as opposed to the sweet taste of typical North American gherkins).
This may be one of those dishes where you may need to suspend any conventional flavour notions and just fast forward to the point where you will be licking this sauce off the plate :) This is a memorable sauce – a beautiful marriage of the unique acidity and flavour of cornichons, whole grain mustard, the distinctively French flavour of fresh tarragon and finally, a bit of a nod to Fall, with a touch of apple cider. All this deliciousness, and it’s ready in less than 45 minutes! Win. Win.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Chicken – I’ve used bone-in/skin-on chicken thighs here. Bone-in/skin-on chicken breasts will also work, though they will require a longer cooking time. You could use boneless, skinless chicken and reduce the cooking time.
Cornichons – you can find jarred cornichons in with the pickles at most grocery stores.
Shallots – substitute yellow onion if you don’t have shallots on hand.
Apple Cider – this is the pressed apple juice, not the vinegar. Substitute regular apple juice.
Fresh Tarragon – fresh tarragon is recommended, but if you can’t find it, substitute dried tarragon (about 1 1/2 teaspoons).
What to Serve with Cornichon Chicken
If you’re wondering about sides, I think this sauce pairs perfectly with oven-roasted potatoes and maybe some green beans or asparagus.
Making Ahead, Storing and Freezing
This chicken is best enjoyed freshly made, but can be made ahead and re-heated. Re-heat in a 350F, loosely covered with aluminum foil, until warmed through.
This chicken should freeze, though the sauce may suffer slightly from the freeze/thaw process.
Get the Recipe: Cornichon Chicken
- 6 chicken thighs, bone-in/skin-on
- cooking oil, for browning
- 1/3 cup shallots, thinly sliced (or yellow onion)
- 1/2 cup cornichons, finely chopped
- 2 Tablespoons wholegrain mustard
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 cup apple cider or apple juice, or white wine
- 2 Tablespoons fresh tarragon, (or 2 tsp. dried tarragon)
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream, 35%
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch, (increase to 2 tsp. if using a lighter cream)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Heat oil in a skillet on the stove-top over medium-high heat. Pat chicken dry, then season with salt and pepper. Add chicken to hot pan, skin side down and cook until the skin is quite golden, about 5-8 minutes. Flip chicken over and cook the other side for another 3-4 minutes. Remove chicken to a baking sheet and place in the preheated 375 oven for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the sauce: Remove all but just a tiny bit of the oil from the skillet used to cook the chicken. Place skillet over medium heat on the stove-top. Add the shallots and saute for about 2 minutes, or until lightly browned. Add the chopped cornichons, mustard, chicken broth, apple cider and tarragon. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat slightly and simmer about 3 minutes. Turn heat off under sauce until chicken is almost done.
- When chicken is almost done in the oven, turn the heat back on to medium under the sauce. Bring sauce to a simmer. Mix heavy cream with cornstarch until smooth. Add cream mixture to sauce. Stir to combine well. Add chicken from oven. Simmer until sauce is reduced and thickened, about 10 minutes. Taste. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
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Hi! I’m Jennifer, a home cook schooled by trial and error and almost 40 years of getting dinner on the table! I love to share my favourite recipes, both old and new, together with lots of tips and tricks to hopefully help make your home cooking enjoyable, stress free, rewarding and of course, delicious!