Tarragon and Aijwain brined chicken casserole

Brined Chicken Casserole

Lately I was faced with a bit of a challenge. I had dinner guests coming over and there were some different requirements. No red meat, no seafood and nothing hot, that means no chilli or pepper, even watercress is a bit too peppery.

I actually had to stop and think about it for quite some time. In the end I decided to get chicken breasts, the butcher in the market has the best tasting chicken I have ever bought.

I was thinking about how to get as much flavor as I could in to the chicken and decided to go for aromatic rather than my usual pinch or two of chilli. I do love a little heat in my food. I like chilli so much I even developed a whole range of chilli products!


I decided to brine the chicken. I recently join the Brand Ambassador Program for The Spice Kitchen UK. They have a great range of spices and sent me a selection. I was like a kid in a sweet shop when they arrived!


The SpiceKitchen spices


Quite a few of them are different types of chilies but I also got Aijwain, (Carom Seeds). I have never even heard of them and knew I had to use them straight away. Let me know if you have any favorite recipes using Aijwain, I would love to try more.


To boost the flavors I used a bottle of Icelandic toasted porter. Someone brought it as a gift and we never got around to drinking it. Saying that I don’t drink porter very often but it is brilliant in food.


Einstök Icelandic Toasted Porter


With the brining of the chicken some pre planning is needed but it is well worth it.


Tarragon and Aijwain infused chicken casserole

preparation time 10 minutes

cooking time 24 hours for brining and 1 hr for the casserole

serves 8


For the brine

  • 8 chicken breasts
  • 10 dl or 5 cups of water
  • 1 piece of ginger
  • leaves from 3 sprigs of tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp Aijwain
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 star anise
  • 1/2 dl salt
  • 1/2 dl demerara sugar
  • oil and butter for pan frying

For the casserole

  • 1 bottle of Porter, I used a toasted Icelandic Porter
  • 10 dl or 5 cups of chicken stock
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut in to chunks
  • 4 sticks of celery, sliced fine
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1/2 dl or 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing Rice Wine
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Spinach
  • 1/2 dl or 1/4 cup double cream

Start with the brine. Place the water in a pan with the ginger, tarragon, Aijwain, onion, star anise, salt and sugar and bring to a boil. Once the salt and sugar dissolved take it off the heat and let cool.

Cut the chicken in to chunks and add them to the cooled brine. Cover and place in the fridge for 24 hours.


Tarragon and Aijwain spiced brine


The next day remove the chicken from the brine and let it dry for a short while. Discard the brine.


Heat oil and butter in a frying pan and brown the chicken.

Cut the carrot in to chunks, slice the celery and slice the onion. Place them in a pan and add the port and the chicken stock with the soy sauce, Shaoxing rice wine, honey, mirin and rice wine vinegar before bringing it to a boil.

Skim and add the chicken. Let the casserole cook for 20 minutes. Remove the chicken and reduce the liquid to half, in this case it took about 40 minutes.

Add the chicken back for the last 5 minutes so it warms through, taste to see if you need any adjustements or need salt and pepper.

Last add the cream, bring to a boil. Turn the heat off, tatse one last time and add the spinach. Put the lid back on and let stand until you are ready to serve.


I had some boiled potatoes in the fridge so I pan fried them together with some French beans to go with the casserole.


Brined Chicken Casserole


I bought the chicken breasts from the butcher in market and his chicken is absolutely delicious. It comes from a farm near Canterbury and it is free range, running around outside eating grass and herbs as well as their feed. This makes such a difference to the meat. It has more texture, flavor and it is never dry.

The brine made the chicken even more moist and the flavors of the tarragon and the Aijwain really came through, what an amazing spice.


I am bringing this to Angie’s Fiesta Friday. I missed it last week, I thought I had so much time but in the end it was just too late.

This week she has two co hosts, Diann, Of Goats and Greens, and Antonia, Zoale.com. They both have great blogs with delicious recipes, well worth heading over to have a peak!














12 Responses to “Tarragon and Aijwain brined chicken casserole”
  1. mistimaan says:

    Looks really good

  2. This looks really tasty! The flavors are complimentary.

  3. I discovered Aijwain a couple years ago, I really do like that spice! Great recipe, and thank you for sharing it with Fiesta Friday.

    • petra08 says:

      hi Diann
      I had never heard of them before and the flavor is amazing! I will absolutely experiment more!
      Thank you for co hosting FF and I hope you are having a good week 🙂

  4. I’m so curious about ajwain. I was so close to ordering the seeds, for planting. My seed catalog mentions you can use the leaves, too. What does it taste like? Some say it’s like thyme. Which I love and put in everything! So I’d probably love ajwain, too. Nice recipe, Petra! I love brining chicken breasts. Lately though I’ve been doing sous vide.

    • Turns out there are 2 kinds of ajwain, from 2 different plants. One is used just for the seeds and the other the leaves, according to Wikipedia. Good thing I checked!

      • petra08 says:

        I haven’t tried the leaves, just the seeds. The flavor is amazing, a little bit like cumin on steriods with a herby influence, I guess hence the mention of notes of thyme.
        A little goes a long way but I am so glad I decided to try them! 🙂

    • petra08 says:

      hi Angie
      I have been eyeing up a sous vide since moved house, a few years ago but in the end it was a sous vide or a toaster and I went for the toaster in the end but I would still want one 🙂 x

  5. Antonia says:

    I love flavorful comforting dishes like this! Thank you for bringing it to the party! Happy Fiesta Friday!

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