Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Coq au Riesling

One of our favorite dishes to make at home is Coq au Vin. Lots of red wine, mushrooms, carrots, and chicken that turns purple from the wine. The March/April issue of Cook's Illustrated has a recipe for Coq au Riesling. We both immediately wanted to try this version.
The published recipe uses a whole chicken cut up into 8 pieces, but we bought the usual thighs and legs in a package that we use for Coq au Vin. Instead of onion, this recipe uses shallots, which adds a nice purple color next to the green celery and orange carrots. Very spring-like.
I am usually not a fan of Riesling wines. I find them too sweet. This recipe calls for a dry Riesling, not a sweet one, or a Sauvignon Blanc or Chablis (but not an oaky Chardonnay). SP asked one of the liquor store employees for help and came home with this Pacific Rim Columbia Valley Dry Riesling. It was a great choice. Not only did it taste delicious in the dish, but we also enjoyed drinking the remaining wine while we cooked.
One of the things CI noticed when tasters tried this dish was that they removed the skin before eating the chicken. We do this, too, when we make Coq au Vin because during the simmer in liquid, the skin becomes soggy. SP usually takes the chicken out and while the sauce reduces, he pulls off the skin and picks all the meat off the bones then returns the meat to the sauce. CI's solution is to pull off the skin at the beginning and saute it until it is brown to get the good brown bits and then later on, discard the skin.

But first, bacon.
Then the chicken skin.
Then the vegetables are added to the bacon and chicken skin.
The chicken in its wine and water bath.
You could eat this with masked potatoes or noodles, but we decided to eat it with sourdough bread from Mediterra.
The mushrooms are sauteed at the end and then added to the chicken and sauce. This is delicious! It's a bit of a lighter version of the Coq au Vin we make.
The sauce is so good. Wine, chicken, herb, sour cream flavors. Definitely a sauce that cries out to be mopped up with bread. It's rich and velvety, but not as heavy as a red wine sauce. I think of the red wine based Coq au Vin as a fall/winter dish while this seems like a good spring/summer dish.

Our version of Coq au Riesling:

  • 4-5 lbs chicken parts (thighs and legs)
  • 2 slices bacon
  • 2 shallots
  • 3 carrots
  • 3 celery ribs
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 2.5 c dry Riesling
  • 1 c water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • parsley (fresh or dried)
  • thyme (fresh or dried)
  • 1 Costco package of whole mushrooms, sliced (around 1 lb)
  • 1/4 c sour cream thinned with a bit of heavy or whipping cream (our version of 1/4 c creme fraiche)


  • Remove the skin from the chicken.
  • Season chicken with salt and pepper.
  • Cook bacon in Dutch oven over medium-low heat until it starts to render.
  • Add chicken skin.
  • When skin is browned, remove a small amount of fat to later use in sauteing the mushrooms. 
  • Add the chopped vegetables.
  • Cook until vegetables start to soften.
  • Add flour and cook, stirring constantly so you don't burn the flour.
  • Slowly add wine, stirring and scraping up browned bits from side/bottom of the pot.
  • Turn up heat and simmer until the liquid starts to thicken.
  • Add water, bay leaves, and fresh herbs (if using fresh) and bring to simmer.
  • Add chicken.
  • Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until chicken is done. Stir partway through cooking. It should take around 30 minutes.
  • Remove chicken.
  • Strain liquid into a bowl. We used a wire mesh colander over a large glass measuring bowl with a pour spout (like this). Press on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard solids.
  • Let liquid settle a bit then skim any fat from the surface of liquid.
  • Saute mushrooms in reserved fat in pot used to cook chicken.
  • When mushrooms are lightly browned, return strained liquid to pot, bring it to a boil, and simmer until sauce thickens. Stir in dried herbs (if using) and sour cream (or creme fraiche).
  • Add chicken and any juices to pot, cover, and cook an additional 5-8 minutes.

Serves 4-6 (we got 3 dinners, so 6 servings)

*We used fresh thyme and dried parsley.
*We omitted the 4 lightly crushed & peeled garlic cloves.

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