Grouse a L'Estragon

I have an old cookbook my grandmother gave me called, The First Lady's Cookbook. Every year on Presidents day I try to make something from that cookbook. In the book it shows all the different Presidential China from Washington to Nixon and gives recipes for each Presidents favorite meals. Reading through some of them they really do seem quite fitting for each president.

Teddy Roosevelt enjoyed a suckling pig as his favorite meal and Lincoln was a big fan of Fricasseed Chicken. It should come as no surprise that Grant enjoyed a beef steak with a Roman punch that was heavy on the rum. Benjamin Harrison really enjoyed a fish chowder but was also in love with sausage rolls. The picture in the book made me laugh because the sausage rolls are just a fancy name for pigs in a blanket. William McKinley enjoyed breakfast all the time and apparently would have bacon, eggs and Johnny cakes when he was in the mood for a special treat. President Taft had more expensive tastes and would sit down to a meal of chicken croquettes and lobster a la Newburg. If you have never had anything a la Newburg I would highly recommend it. it is usually shrimp or lobster poached and then smothered in a sauce made with butter, cayenne, sherry and cream thickened with egg yolks. 

One of my favorite recipes from the book comes from President Kennedy's favorite meal. Poulet a l'estragon or a simmered chicken in a tarragon cream sauce. It is positively delightful and the chicken is about as juicy and flavorful as any I have ever had. I have made this a few times in the past but this year I had a couple of beautiful sharp-tailed grouse that I wanted to use. When I shot the grouse I was hunting in northern Minnesota and shot them on public land that was surrounded by sunflowers. each grouse was full of sunflower seeds so I really wanted to serve these with something involving sunflowers. I made a very nice rice and chick pea pilaf with sunflowers seeds and the whole meal was wonderful.  

Grouse a L'Estragon 

2 grouse split in half
3 tablespoons of flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
olive oil
3 shallots (minced)
3/4 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup stock ( i used pheasant stock but chicken stock works as well)
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of time
4 stems of parsley
one bunch of fresh tarragon ( reserve some of the tarragon leaves for garnish)
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1. Mix the flour, salt and pepper in a 1 gallon plastic bag, then place the grouse halves in the bag one at a time and shake until coated with the flour mixture.

2. Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a large pan and then brown the grouse halves in the oil. 2-3 minutes each side.

3. Make a parcel with the herbs using cheese cloth and tying them together, then add the wine, stock shallots and herbs to the pan. Cover and simmer for 30-35 or until the grouse is tender and pulling away from the bone. 

4. Remove the grouse from the pan and add the cream and Parmesan, stir until thickened adding the left over flour if necessary to thicken the sauce. 

5. Strain the sauce and serve over the grouse, garnishing with the reserved tarragon. serve with boiled potatoes or rice.