Monday, 17 August 2015

Boozy Dinner: Easy Coq au Riesling Recipe

I think we can all agree that Coq au Vin is a beautiful thing. The French sure know what they're doing with this rich, slow cooked, deep flavoured dish; giving the plain old chicken a bit of va-va-voom.

The traditional recipe sees a whole bird and a whole bottle of red wine marry together, along with some bacon, mushrooms, onions and herbs, low and slow in a giant pot. You really can't go wrong with that. However, the age old question will always come up with regards to what kind of wine should you use; is it a waste to slosh in a decent bottle? Or is it some kind of chicken-heresy to use the cheapest of the cheap vinegar-esque vino?

In my personal opinion, I'd probably plump for something middle of the road and save the good bottle to drink with it. But to avoid all awkward inquisitions, I've abandoned traditions, grabbed a bottle of Riesling and ventured east, to Alsace!

Coq au Riesling is an Alsatian speciality; lighter in style, creamy in texture, and a little bit fresher in comparison to it's deep red friend. You probably already know how much we love Riesling at Vinspire (though it's more likely just me and Tim banging on about it), and with its complex flavour profile, it is PERFECT for cooking with.

An off-dry would be my recommendation here; something that's citrusy, tropical and mineral with a bit of residual sugar. That said, any style would work, even the sweetest of Rieslings could give you a full bodied boozy bird.

There are hundreds of recipes floating around on the internet, some quick, some slow, some avant garde... With just two of us in my house, I sometimes think that a whole chicken is a little excessive, even more so when it's a weeknight dinner; you want something quick, easy, but still delicious! Also, using an entire bottle of wine in cooking is not ideal if you're trying to keep an eye on the pennies; it's quite an extravagant ingredient!

With all this in mind, I've dabbled in the traditional, but lessened the ingredients - it's dinner pour deux (which can easily be adapted to serve more) - not compromising on taste. I've cut down the cooking time too, so it's an elegant affair ready to eat, from start to finish, in an hour.

I used Schloss Johannisberg Silberlack 2013 (£47.41 from Wineman.co.uk) - it's German, I know - which I acquired from a Riesling tasting at The Grape Escape (more on that soon...). But use whatever Riesling takes your fancy and enjoy the rest of the bottle with dinner. However, if you're like me, you'll be sipping whilst you're cheffing, in which case make sure you have a spare!

Coq au Riesling
(serves 2)

Ingredients
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • splash of olive oil
  • 5 small shallots, cut in half lengthways and separated to form "onion petals"
  • 75g of smoked bacon lardons
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 2 whole chicken legs (containing the thigh and drumstick)
  • 5 chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 300ml Riesling
  • 2 tbsp. crème fraîche
  • salt and pepper
  • a handful of chopped parsley to serve

Method
  1. In a large pan with a lid, melt the butter with the olive oil (this prevents the butter burning).
  2. Throw in the chicken legs and turn to brown all over. Once there's a good even colouring, remove from the pan.
  3. Add the shallots and bacon lardons and fry for around 5 minutes, keeping the contents of the pan moving. You want the shallots to be soft and the fat from the lardons to have oozed out, leaving the bacon crispy.
  4. Add the sliced garlic and sauté for a minute before removing everything with a slotted spoon (to leave the fat behind).
  5. Fry the mushrooms for 5 minutes, then return the shallots, lardons, garlic and browned chicken to the pan.
  6. Now add the Riesling, bring it up to simmering point, then whack on the lid and leave for 25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. At this point the wine should have reduced slightly, but if not, crank up the heat and leave uncovered for a bit.
  7. Take the pan off the heat, stir in the crème fraîche, and season to taste.
  8. Sprinkle over the parsley and serve. (Thick ribbons of papardelle pasta, or potatoes of some description would be my choice, and you'll want some crusty bread to mop up the juices... You're guaranteed to be licking the plate clean!)

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