John F. Kennedy’s Polet a l’Estragon

March 15, 2017

This recipe for Polet a l’Estragon (French for “tarragon chicken”) appears in The First Ladies Cookbook: Favorite Recipes of All the Presidents of the United States and was submitted by Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy as one of her husband’s favorites. According to John F. Kennedy’s Presidential Library, none of JFK’s favorite foods could actually be verified, though baked chicken topped the list. It is said that President Kennedy was “a small eater and he often had to be reminded that it was dinner time.” 


JFK's favorite food

This chicken dish tastes like something you’d find in a fancy restaurant, and perhaps that’s just why this dish was one of JFK’s favorite foods and a Kennedy family favorite. It was fairly simple to make (though we used chicken tenders) and quite frankly, I wanted to lick my entire plate clean of that rich sauce. Talk about mouth watering!

JFK recipes

JFK chicken recipe



1 chicken, 3 pounds

2 TBS flour



clarified butter for sautéing

3 shallots

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup chicken stock

1 bay leaf

1 pinch thyme

2 stems parsley

1 small bunch fresh tarragon


Cut chicken into 8 or 10 pieces or leave whole. Combine flour, salt, and pepper. Coat chicken with flour  mixture. Brown on all sides in hot clarified butter. Cut shallots very fine and spread over chicken. Simmer for a few minutes. Add wine, stock, and the bouquets of herbs using the stem only of tarragon, saving leaves. Cover and simmer cut up chicken 25 minutes or until tender. Simmer the whole chicken 45 minutes, turning frequently. When chicken is tender, remove and keep hot.


1 cup light cream

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

To the pan juices, add cream and cheese, and any flour not used in coating chicken. Simmer gently until sauce thickens. Strain sauce over chicken. Garnish with tarragon leaves, whole or chopped.

Author: Andrea

Former news reporter and Capitol Hill press guru, wife, mom, and pastry addict.

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