Can you ever have enough classic French dishes in your repertoire? And can I ever get enough of asking rhetorical questions? The answer to both is firm no! I came across this recipe in the March '08 issue of Gourmet. The whole issue is filled with French inspiration, and being a sort of ever-hungry Francophile, I suddenly find myself with two or three dinners worth of work ahead of me. This particular chicken in riesling dish is an Alsatian version of coq au vin, and it just might be the best coq au vin I've ever had. Plus it is the classic one pot meal, with everything coming to the table in a big, steaming, aromatic pot of olfactory goodness.
I linked to the original recipe above, as the one below has a couple of changes, for the better I think. The original called for a whole chicken cut up into pieces. Since both w and I are dark meat fans, I opted for all thigh meat. It gives the dish that much more flavor, and braised chicken thighs are so damn good. I also left my bottle of Alsace riesling back on the counter at the wine shack when I locked up after work, so I ended up using a pretty amazing bottle of 1985 German riesling for the dish. Can you say "wow"?! Finally, I used crème fraiche instead of heavy cream as that lends a sharper, richer flavor. This is really delicious, and not nearly as heavy as you might think. Call a couple of friends over and throw this down on the table with a bottle of Alsatian Riesling or Austrian Gruner Veltliner and let the compliments flow! Oh, and don't forget a crusty loaf of ciabatta bread (use any leftover bread for this awesome french toast) because you'll want to sop up every last drop of the incredibly luscious riesling sauce!
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Alsatian Chicken in Riesling
makes 4 servings
8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
4 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), finely chopped (2 cups)
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
4 medium carrots, halved diagonally
1 cup dry white wine (preferably Alsatian Riesling)
1 1/2 pound small (2-inch) red potatoes
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup crème fraîche or heavy cream
Fresh lemon juice to taste
1-Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
2-Pat chicken dry and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and a rounded
3/4 teaspoon pepper. Heat oil with 1 tablespoon butter in a wide 3 1/2- to 5-quart heavy ovenproof pot over medium-high heat until foam subsides, then brown chicken (left) in 2 batches, turning once, about 10 minutes total per batch. Transfer to a plate.
3-Meanwhile, wash leeks and pat dry.
4-Pour off fat from pot, then cook leeks, shallot, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in remaining 2 tablespoons butter, covered, over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until leeks are pale golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Add chicken, skin sides up, with any juices from plate, carrots, and wine and boil until liquid is reduced by half, 3 to 4 minutes. Cover pot and braise chicken in oven until cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes.
The chicken before going in the oven (top) and ready for the table (bottom).
5-While chicken braises, peel potatoes, then generously cover with cold water in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan and add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer until potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes. Drain in a colander, then return to saucepan. Add parsley and shake to coat.
6-Stir crème fraîche into chicken mixture and season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice, then add potatoes.