Who says warm braised chicken, aka, Coq au Riesling, can’t be perfect for warm summer evenings? It can and this subtle version is not only simpler, but more delicately flavored with only leeks, shallots and parsley. I scuttled the garlic, thyme etc… And since the meat cooks at a lower temperature it needs to be on the bone for maximum flavor & unctuousness.
To start you’ll want to cut up a small chicken or get three pounds of parts (I usually default to thighs) then dry them off and season with salt and pepper. Heat the oil and butter in your pot and when it’s hot place the chicken skin side down in the fat. Don’t move it until the skin has formed a golden crust. You can determine this by shaking the pan gently. If the skin is crispy it will release naturally. Once it does, flip it and do a quick brown on the other side then remove from the pan and set aside.
While the chicken’s browning, carefully wash and chop the the bottom greenish/gold part of the leeks and the shallots. Put them in the pan and saute for a few then add the wine, scraping the bottom to bring up the browned parts. After a good stir throw in the bay leaf then place the halved and peeled carrots on top and the chicken with its juices on top of that. Let it boil until somewhat reduced then cover and put in the oven.
While it’s cooking boil the potatoes in salted water. The reason I do this separately is to make sure the potatoes aren’t overcooked. And I know that having potatoes and noodles is gilding the lily but I love them both so you can skip the noodles if that’s too excessively starchy. Once the chicken is done remove to a serving platter and stir in the minced parsley, potatoes and heavy cream. Spoon over the chicken, top with chives and serve. If you’re serving with the noodles as an option you’ll want to put them on the individual serving plates before digging in to the chicken and cream sauce.
Finally, if you’re looking for a light summer salad make my orange arugula version. It’s a perfect tart foil for the creamy chicken.
Riesling, or as the French say, “L’un des plus grands cépages du monde!”
And they’re right! It really is one of the greatest grape varieties which is why I wanted to provide a little background since it’s in the title of the dish, but also because it’s one of my favorites. Riesling has many styles but it’s summer and the right Riesling style for a braised chicken dish is a dry minerally one with distinct under ripe fruit and citrus notes. It won’t overwhelm the other ingredients and has the added bonus of going down easy with the meal. The late harvest sweet versions are famed but the topic for another posting since they’re enjoyed in different contexts.
Riesling is a grape grown on both sides of the Rhine but compared to their German counterparts, dry Alsatian Rieslings tend to be drier, have more mineral notes and be aligned more closely with the citrus spectrum of fruit flavors. The grape began to be cultivated in Germany in the 15th century before crossing the border to France in the 17th. For the purposes of this recipe there’s not a big difference between the two so any of the younger drier versions are fine and you can even try excellent varieties grown in Washington State, the New York finger lakes region or Australia’s Clare Valley. As you can see from these far flung locations Monsieur Riesling is a traveler who only demands cooler weather, especially at night. The other advantage accruing to this varietal is its consistent quality across brands. What does that mean? Simple – it means that all the major growers will deliver a delicious product regardless of brand or vintage. In addition to the Trimbach I used you might try vintages from Beyer, Windsbuhl, or Josmeyer.
The dryness lightness and lower alcohol allow it to cut through the cream and fat. Perfect for chicken, pork and fish and of course, perfect for the Coq au Riesling featured here.
And remember, the French expression for a bribe is a “pot de vin.” With one of these vintages you could bribe almost anyone to do anything. Good to know in election season!
- 3 lbs chicken parts
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 leeks, (equal to about 1.5 cups chopped)
- 2 tablespoons shallots, finely chopped
- 4 carrots, halved
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 lb. small round red potatoes, unpeeled
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
- ⅔ cup creme fraiche or heavy cream
- lemon juice to taste
- buttered egg noodles
- Preheat oven to 325.
- Pat chicken dry, salt and pepper well, then heat oil and the butter in an oven proof pan over medium high heat. Place chicken skin side down in fat and brown on each side. Remove and set aside. About 10 minutes. Don't crowd the pan. Do in batches.
- Wash leeks carefully and chop the white and pale green parts.
- Add leeks and chopped shallots to the pan and cook until pale gold about 5 minutes.
- Place carrots in pan and top with the chicken (skin side up) with its juice, then add bay leaf & wine. Let boil for 3 or 4 minutes until reduced by about half then cover pot and place in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes.
- While the chicken cooks boil the potatoes in cold salted water until tender, about 15 minutes, drain, add parsley and shake to coat, and add to chicken along with the creme fraiche or heavy cream.
- Squeeze lemon juice on individual servings if desired.