Chicken Poached in Tarragon Olive Oil & Vanilla




  • 250ml Peta Mathias tarragon-infused olive oil 
  • 250ml leccino Peta Mathias olive oil 
  • 1/2 pod vanilla, split open, grains removed 
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt 
  • 12 peppercorns 
  • 2 large organic chicken breasts (about 250g each) 
  • handful fresh chervil 
  • 2 whole bulbs fennel (about 120g each) 
  • chervil sprigs, for garnish 
  • lemon wedges, for garnish 
  • frying thermometer

Suggested wine match -  2013 Waipara Hills Equinox Chardonnay

From The Food Show 2015.


This is the most delicate, heavenly way to cook chicken.

Put oils in a medium-sized pot with the vanilla pod and grains, salt and peppercorns.

Dry the chicken breasts and stuff sprigs of chervil under the skin.

Wash, dry, trim and slice the fennel bulbs in half lengthwise.

Place the chicken and fennel in the oil. With the thermometer, bring the temperature up to 50°C (no more but it can be less) and poach for 20 minutes exactly. If you don't have a thermometer, bring the oil gently to a tremble – it must never boil – and poach at a tremble for 20 minutes.

Remove chicken and fennel with a slotted spoon and drain on a cake rack over paper towels. This prevents the oil from soaking back into the food. Rest for 5 minutes.

To serve, slice the chicken breasts thickly on the cross and arrange on plates, drizzled with a little of the poaching oil. Place the fennel next to them and squeeze lemon over. Garnish with sprigs of chervil and lemon wedges.


The poaching oil can be used again to cook chicken. Just strain it through a coffee filter, plop in a slice of lemon rind and store, covered, in a dark place.