From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Try though I might, I have yet to get a decent, appealing picture of this famous Alsaetian dish. You'll have to trust me when I say its flavor far outshines its often dowdy appearance. This is one of my favorite ways to prepare chicken and I like it far more from than the more popular red wine braise of the region. Obviously, the wine and the mushrooms are what give this dish its great flavor and it is best not to stint on either. You'll want to find a reasonably dry, full-bodied Riesling. If that is not possible, use a really good dry French vermouth and work with that. I often use vermouth in cooking because we are not big drinkers and I usually do not have a half empty bottle of white wine stashed in my refrigerator. Because it is fortified vermouth lasts pretty much forever, and opened bottles of it can be kept without fear of it becoming vinegar. This is a wonderful dish that I know you will enjoy. Here are my original thoughts about the dish.
Coq au vin seems to be back in vogue. I've always loved this peasant treasure. As a matter of fact, I have two versions of it in my permanent recipe file. My vin rouge comes from the very old Dionne Lucas cookbook. I still love it, but it uses three types of wine plus good brandy, bacon and a mound of vegetables that need browning before going into the pot. It's very good, very French but a lot of work for a braise. The vin blanc is just much easier to make. My recipe comes from Alsace and is based on one developed by Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Need I ask which you think I make more often? The one requirement for this recipe is a reasonably dry and full-bodied Riesling. The name of these two dishes is actually a misnomer. The chicken originally used to make them was an old stewing hen. Copious amounts of wine and a long simmer were needed to tenderize the old girl. Our chickens are so tender that the modern braise bares no resemblance to the coq au vin of old. This is simple to do and absolutely delicious. With a luscious salad, crackling French bread and a slightly more formal presentation, family fare can be elevated to company status in an almost effortless fashion. Finish the meal with an apple or lemon tart and your reputation as a cook be enhanced. Once you try this you'll see why it's remained my permanent roster all these years. It really is a keeper
Braised Chicken with Riesling...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
One 3 1/2-pound chicken, quartered
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large shallot, minced
2 tablespoons Cognac (optional)
1 cup dry Riesling
6 ounces white mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/3 cup heavy cream
1) Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet. Add chicken, season with saltand pepper and cook over moderate heat until slightly browned, about 4 minutes per side. Add shallot and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add Cognac, if using, and carefully ignite it with a long match. When flames subside, add Riesling, cover and simmer over low heat until chicken breasts are just cooked, about 25 minutes. Transfer breasts to a large plate and cover with foil. Cover and simmer legs until cooked through, about 10 minutes longer. Transfer to plate.
2) Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook over low heat until liquid evaporates, about 7 minutes. Increase heat to moderate and cook, stirring, until browned, about 3 minutes.
3) In a bowl, blend flour and remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Stir cream into the large skillet; bring to a simmer. Gradually whisk flour paste into cooking liquid and simmer, whisking, until no floury taste remains, about 3 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper. Return the chicken to skillet, add mushrooms and briefly reheat. Yield: 4 servings.
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