Oven baked Tarragon Chicken with Garlic and Caramelized Onions
Patrick and I sat outside in our rocking chairs this morning, all wrapped up in blankets of plaids and checks. One blanket, from some little quaint shop in the English Cotswolds was toted home from abroad and the other blanket, bundled and stuffed onto airplanes from across our Atlantic trip to Iceland, now keep the much welcomed chill of October weather from driving us inside, allowing us to squeeze in and savor as much porch time as we can…when instead of fluttering leaves…it will soon be fluttering snowflakes.
Our hands, wrapped firmly around hot mugs of strong coffee dolloped with a generous pours of steamed milk, acted as conduits of warmth as the percolated delicious brew carried heat from the tips of our fingers, through the padding of those blankets, to deliver moments of perceived warmth to the tips of our toes. We rocked back and forth some more. We watched the smoke float out from distant chimneys. The steam of the coffee twirled back and forth in unison with our motions.
While deep in conversation about life, challenges, changes, hopes, and dreams, a little baby chipmunk noisily scampered out from a fresh pile of newly fallen maple leaves to peek up at us with round-eyed curiosity. It flicked its teensy-weensy tail and I couldn’t help but realize that the patch of our yard, filled with the soft hued corals and yellows of October’s fallen leaves, comprised that baby chipmunks entire world. What to our human eyes are our piles of forgotten leaves, to the eyes of little chipmunk there, countless adventures could be untold.
We continued rocking, continued sipping, and continued reminiscing about the fall foliage day trips we had just taken with my in-laws and children whom, via plane, train, and bus, had just left the day before to journey back to their respective worlds. We all squeezed into our ancient Honda and roamed from the salty seacoast region of New Hampshire all the way west into the farmlands of Vermont over the past week covering mile after mile of breathtaking fall foliage dipped hillsides, sipped cups of hot cider, baked donuts to dip in cinnamon sugar, and scrubbed cherrystone clam shells while preparing steaming bowls of clam chowder.
The baby chipmunk continued its noisy trek. He slipped under the leaves and popped out to the east at the base of a towering Catalpa tree that is desperately hanging on to its dinner plate sized chartreuse-colored leaves. I could almost imagine the compelling journey little chipmunk was undertaking as it chanced possible dangers, yet perhaps also gained satisfaction from exciting discoveries. All this! while scampering under that canopy of crunchy rooftop leaves.
A few rocks back and forth in our creaky chairs and we laughed as our little chipmunk popped out a bit over to the west and peered out at us while sitting up on the grey stone rocks that form a wall near my perennial garden. What a journey for that little fellow. Our human journeys took planes, trains, and cars to canvas the entire state. We wondered if the little chipmunk curls up in its little hole in the ground at night and reminisces in the same way we do. The image of a tiny little rocking chair creaking away somewhere underground made me laugh out loud.
That journey, under hundreds of leaves bigger than its little body, surely must be quite the adventure. After all, those leaves weren’t there just a few days ago. This is all new terrain now. Just as we marvel at the world of New Hampshire that dons a completely new mantel of fall foliage, our baby chipmunk might be marveling too at his newly painted world.
Soon, when it pops its wee little head out from the ground, it will blink surprisingly a few times as it peers out at its vast landscape, because that same landscape of today will more than likely be laden with the first round of velvety white snow. What adventures not only await us as we continue to explore this beautiful state…but what adventures are right here in our yard, feet away from our creaky rocking porch chairs.
Our beloved little covered bridge in Warner, New Hampshire
Top right: fall window dressings in Woodstock, Vermont
Early morning scenery near Durham, New Hampshire
Top Left: Fall Foliage camouflage outfit planning. Top Right: Kaze Shabu Shabu in Boston Bottom Left: Chinatown, Boston
Top Left & Right: Woodstock, Vermont
Quechee Gorge, Vermont
Somewhere lost along the many lake roads of eastern New Hampshire
- ½ cup finely chopped tarragon (leaves and tender stems), plus 4 whole sprigs
- 4 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper, more as needed
- 3 pounds bone-in chicken thighs (skin on)
- 2 large onions, peeled and sliced with mandolin (about 4 cups)
- 4 thyme sprigs
- Sherry vinegar, to taste
- In a large bowl, stir together tarragon, garlic, oil, salt and pepper. Add sliced onions and toss to coat.
- Heat oven to 375˚F2q degrees. Spread onions out on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss well. Clear spaces on the baking pan, then place chicken pieces in the cleared spaces so the onions surround the chicken. Strew thyme and tarragon sprigs over onions and chicken.
- Roast, tossing the onions after 15 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and the onions tender, (use an instant read thermometer to reach about 155˚F). Move the pan with chicken andnonions under the broiler to crisp up the chicken skin and caramelize the onion a little more. The chicken drippings will flavor the onions beautifully.
- Place tarragon scented onions on a platter and top with chicken pieces. Drizzle onions with sherry vinegar and more salt and pepper if needed. Serve