Coq Au Riesling (Coq Au Vin Blanc)

A one-pot wonder ready in less than an hour, this dish is a riff on the classic French dish Coq Au Vin.  It is also a somewhat lighter dish, with a slightly tangy but still rich flavor profile, due in part to the use of Riesling, a white wine, rather than a French red.  Classic Coq Au Vin takes several hours to prepare (or if you follow Julia Child’s Recipe it will take you all day… still worth trying though!), but this dish should take you considerably less time.

Time: Around 60 minutes
Level:  Advanced
Cost: About $8 per plate
Serves: 4- 6

Ingredients:

  1. 8-10oz bacon, diced into lardons
  2. 4 chicken breasts, halved crosswise (or 8 chicken thighs, or 2 halved breasts and 4 thighs)
  3. 2 TBSP olive oil, divided
  4. 1-2 TBSP butter (or clarified butter, also known as ghee)
  5. 6 TBSP flour
  6. Salt and Pepper
  7. 2 TSP paprika
  8. 3 shallots, diced (see how to chop an onion, this trick works for shallots too!)
  9. 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  10. 8oz Cremini or Bella brown mushrooms, halved or quartered, depending on their size
  11. Optional: 1/4 cup brandy, for flambé
  12. 2 cups dry or off-dry Riesling white wine (in a pinch, any dry white will do, and cheap is fine as long as you’d drink it).
  13. 1 cup decent, low sodium chicken broth
  14. 1 cup heavy cream
  15. 1 bunch chopped parsley

Instructions

Mix flour, salt and pepper, and paprika in a medium bowl and whisk together.  You’ll be using this to dredge the chicken in a minute.

In a large, heavy bottomed skillet, heat 1 TBSP olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the bacon lardons and sauté until lightly browned but not crispy, and some of the fat has rendered.

Add shallots and sauté until mostly translucent.  Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, 1-2 more minutes.

Don’t burn the shallots and the garlic!  If you’re not sure if the pan is too hot, before dumping all the shallots into the pan you can test for temperature by tossing in one little piece of shallot.  If it doesn’t react much, it’s probably a good temperature.  However, if it crackles loudly, or if hot fat spatters everywhere, or if it jumps out of the pan, it’s too hot.  Reduce the temperature before adding in the rest of the shallots and garlic.

Sauté shallots, garlic and lardons until shallots are somewhat translucent and garlic is very fragrant, about 3-5 minutes.

Remove lardons, shallots and garlic with a slotted spoon and reserve in a medium bowl, leaving the fat behind in the pan.

Dredge chicken pieces in flour mixture.  Shake off the excess and place each piece into the hot pan with the bacon fat.  Brown chicken on all sides, remove and reserve.

You may need to work in batches; that’s okay – overcrowding the pan will reduce the overall temperature of the pan and make it harder to brown the chicken.  You may need to add about 1 TBSP of fat – either butter or olive oil – between batches; that’s okay too.  Also, note that the chicken doesn’t need to be cooked through at this point – it will finish cooking in the sauce at the end.

Once the chicken has been browned, removed from the pan and reserved, you should still have at least 1 TBSP of fat in the pan.  If you don’t, add 1 TBSP of butter and melt over medium heat.

Add mushrooms and continue to sauté over medium-high heat until they have absorbed most of the fat and begin to caramelize just a bit.

Optional Step*:  Add brandy (or whatever liquor you’re using) and flambe.

You can use a match or grill lighter to do this.  Simply add the liquor and then ignite your flame and hold it OVER the pan.  The vapors will ignite generating an impressive flame.  Don’t freak out!  Simply remove the pan from the heat and shake vigorously back and forth until the flames subside.  For safety reasons, I’d recommend keeping a lid nearby to extinguish any flames, should they become out of control, although this is unlikely to happen.  If this step causes you any trouble and you don’t get flames, don’t worry… just cook everything down for a minute or two until the raw alcohol has evaporated.

Add the Riesling wine and chicken stock to deglaze the pan.  Continue to stir with a wooden spoon and scrape up any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan (this stuff is called fond and it’s delicious).  Bring to a boil and return chicken and any drippings to the pan.  Partially cover, lower heat to a simmer, and allow to cook for about 45 minutes, keeping an eye on the liquid level of the pan – you don’t want it to reduce too much.

After about 45 minutes, the chicken will be cooked through and very tender, and the liquid will have reduced somewhat.  Remove chicken (again) from the pan and stir in the heavy cream.  Reduce by 25-30%, stirring often, until sauce is desired level of thickness.  Return chicken to pan (again) and cook for 2 minutes more.  Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Serve over mashed potatoes, egg noodles, or with a loaf rustic french bread.  Anything to soak up that sauce!

_________

*My original post omitted this step.  It still will work great without it.  However, this step adds a depth of flavor that is quite enjoyable.  In either case, don’t worry about it too much!

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