Originally created 02/17/99

Tarragon chicken is simple, deliciously fancy



Crispy Tarragon Chicken with Apricot Rice is a simple baked dish that is fancy and delicious enough to feed to company. It is served with a tarragon-scented sauce that tastes like old-fashioned bearnaise, except that it isn't dripping with butter fat.

In fact, there isn't any butter in this recipe at all. The chicken is crisp because it is coated in rice cereal crumbs. The sauce is made with chicken broth, simmered with tarragon and lemon juice, and lightly thickened with cornstarch. The rice is dotted with pieces of sweet dried apricots, making a delicious contrast to the tart sauce.

This dish can be made in advance and reheated just before serving. However, be careful not to overcook the chicken, or it will go from being crisp on the outside to being dry on the inside.

CRISPY TARRAGON CHICKEN WITH APRICOT RICE

Rice:

1 cup long-grain white rice, such as Thai jasmine rice

3 dried apricots, minced

Chicken:

2 cups crisp rice cereal squares

1 teaspoon dried tarragon

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

1 egg white

5 boneless, skinless chicken breast fillets, about 4 ounces each

Sauce:

1 (14.5-ounce) can fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth

1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon leaves

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 clove garlic, crushed through a press

1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon light sour cream

1/8 teaspoon salt

For the rice: Cook the rice according to package directions, stirring in the dried, minced apricots. When all the water has been absorbed, turn off the heat under the rice and allow to stand covered for 10 minutes.

For the chicken: Heat the oven to 375F. Coat a baking dish lightly with nonstick olive oil cooking spray. Set aside. In a food processor or blender, combine the crisp rice squares cereal, the tarragon, thyme, salt and pepper. Grind until the cereal is in fine crumbs. Place on a plate or in a shallow bowl. Place the egg white in a separate bowl. Dip the chicken in The egg white, allowing the excess to drip off. Roll the chicken in the cereal crumbs. Repeat so each chicken breast is thickly coated with cereal. Place in the prepared baking dish. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until chicken is firm to the touch when pressed lightly with your fingers.

For the sauce: In a medium saucepan, combine the chicken broth, tarragon, lemon juice and garlic. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat so broth is simmering. Allow to simmer about 10 minutes, or until broth has reduced to 1 cup. Stir the cornstarch and water together in a small dish to make a thin paste, then stir the cornstarch into the simmering broth. Cook 30 seconds, or until broth thickens. Remove from heat and stir in the light sour cream and salt. Taste for seasonings. Sauce should be slightly tart.

Serve chicken with about 3/4 cup of cooked rice and drizzle with sauce.

Makes 5 servings.

Nutritional information per serving: Calories, 398; fat, 4.8 grams (11 percent of calories from fat); protein, 41 grams; carbohydrate, 44 grams; dietary fiber, 1.1 grams; cholesterol, 98 milligrams; sodium, 534 milligrams.

Charlotte Balcomb Lane is the author of two cookbooks. If you have a recipe you would like streamlined to contain less fat and fewer calories, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Lane at 78 Kiva Place, Sandia Park, NM 87047. Please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope and the name of your newspaper. You may also send recipes by email to eatlofat@AOL.com.