Julia Child may have made Coq au Vin famous, but it’s not my favorite way to braise chicken. Not anymore at least.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against Coq au Vin. I’ve made it a handful of times by request, to celebrate an occasion for somebody special in my life. It takes the entire afternoon, and a myriad of pans to make happen. Peeling pearl onions, one by one, is nobody’s idea of fun. Not even Julia’s.
So when I came across this recipe in Food and Wine Magazine, I made it the first chance I could, which turned out to be last winter. It’s hard to pass up on something that includes all of my favorite things in one dish: Riesling, mushrooms, crème fraîche, and lemon. This flavor combination is deeply savory, rich and bright all at the same time.
I made it again this past weekend, and it was just as good as I remembered. It’s a favorite in our home, and it’s bound to be a favorite in yours. I don’t know if I’ll ever make Coq au Vin again. Not if I don’t have to.
Now if you’re wondering what kind of Riesling to use, look for ones from the Alsace region of France or ones that are labeled dry. I found an affordable bottle of Trimbach Riesling at my local grocery store, and it was perfect to cook the chicken, and for drinking with dinner.
Coq au Riesling
- 4 pounds chicken legs, divided into drumsticks and thighs
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 medium carrot, chopped
- 1 celery rib, chopped
- 2 medium shallots, chopped
- 1½ cups dry Riesling
- 1½ cups chicken stock
- 4 thyme sprigs
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound mixed mushrooms, sliced
- ½ cup crème fraîche
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- Finely chopped tarragon, for garnish
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large, enameled cast-iron casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of the canola oil. Add half of the chicken and cook over moderately high heat, turning, until browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Cook the remaining chicken, then pour off the fat from the pan.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of canola oil in the casserole pan. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and shallots and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the vegetables are softened and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add the Riesling and simmer for 1-2 minutes, scraping up the brown bits from the pot. Add the chicken stock and thyme and bring to a boil.
Nestle the chicken into the casserole; cover and braise in the oven for 1 hour, until tender.
While the chicken is braising in the oven, melt the butter and olive oil in a very large skillet. Add the mushrooms and cook over high heat, without stirring, until well browned, about 5 minutes. Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until tender and no longer squeaky, 3 – 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Once the chicken is tender, transfer it to a plate. Strain the braising liquid through a fine sieve into a heatproof bowl, pressing onto the solids. Skim off as much fat as you can. Return the braising liquid to the casserole dish and boil until reduced to 1½ cups, about 5 minutes or so. Whisk in the crème fraîche and lemon juice and season the sauce with salt and pepper. Add the mushrooms and the chicken to the sauce and simmer for 2 minutes. Garnish with fresh tarragon and serve. I like to serve this with a crusty baguette to mop up all of the delicious sauce. Egg noodles, mashed potatoes, or rice will work too.