This round of CTB is being hosted by the lovely Johanna who selected "French Lessons: Adventures with Knife, Fork and Corkscrew" by Francophile author, Peter Mayle.
I read Mayle's "A Year in Provence" some years ago and enjoyed his humor and writing style so I was happy for a good reason to read "French Lessons". The book is Mayle's account of the love and focus on food that the French have and his adventures traveling throughout France and attending various, mostly unusual, food festivals and events. Celebrations and revelry abound for truffles, cheese, chicken frog legs, snails and of course the almighty wine and Mayle's descriptions and wit make him the perfect "traveling companion" in exploring the passion the French have for celebrating their food.
It was difficult to choose a dish for this book as most of the main "characters" like truffles, frog legs, snails and "blue-footed" Bresse chickens are expensive and not easy to get here in Hawaii. I finally decided to simply go with a French dish and make a classic Coq Au Riesling or Chicken with Riesling, from Alsace, a region on France's Easter border with Germany. Why Coq Au Riesling? Well my good friend Yoko who is currently living in Alsace visited me last year and was here when I cooked Ina Garten's Coq Au Vin, similar but made with red wine, for Barefoot Bloggers. We got to talking about Yoko's preference for Coq Au Riesling and other Alsatian dishes and a few months later she sent me a package with foodie treats from Alsace and included a regional cookbook. I kept meaning to make the dish (Yes I know, procrastination is a great skill of mine!), and this seemed like the perfect motivation. So Yoko, if you are reading this--this one is for you! ;-)
Coq Au Riesling (Chicken with Riesling)
From Alsatian Cuisine by Evelyne Sevrin
1 chicken weighing about 1.500 kg (about 3 1/2 lbs)
50 g butter (3.5 Tbsp)
1 clove of garlic
5 cl cognac (about 2 oz)
40 cl Riesling (about 1 & 3/4 cups)
200 g button mushrooms (about 7 oz)
20 cl fresh cream (about 6 oz)
salt and pepper
Chop the chicken into portion-sized pieces. Brown them in a casserole dish for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, keep warm.
Add the chopped shallots and garlic to the dish and flambee with cognac. Add the chicken. Deglaze with the Riesling. Add the button mushrooms. Check the seasoning. Leave to cook for 40 minutes on a gentle heat.
Remove the pieces of chicken and arrange them on a serving dish. Reduce the cooking liquid and add the cream while stirring. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.
Notes/Results: Very good! I'm with Yoko, I think I prefer Coq Au Riesling to Coq Au Vin. It is more subtle and the chicken doesn't end up being grayish-purple. ;-) I had hoped to show you a gorgeous shot of a serving dish full of lovely chicken with wine sauce but my poor chicken overall just wasn't pretty. Hating to cut up chicken, I took the lazy way out and bought a whole free-range chicken at Whole Foods and asked the nice meat person to cut up for me. He asked how I wanted it cut and I said, "Just in 8 pieces". He then asked what it was for and I told him "Coq Au Riesling". Blank stare. So I said "It's a kind of chicken stew" and he was off. When I got ready to make the dish and unwrapped the chicken, it was hacked into about 20 small pieces for "stew" I guess, looking like it had been the losing end of a bad fight with a chainsaw. Oh well--it still tasted great.
In a note included with the cookbook, Yoko said that it is often served with Spätzle, a type of egg noodle and there was a recipe in the book, but she also put a bag of dried spätzle in the package in case I was "in a hurry" (or maybe lazy!) I used the packaged noodles to try them out and they worked really well, although any egg noodle would be fine. (Funny--the bulk of the writing on the bag is French and German and I spent the longest time trying to figure out how long to cook the noodles before finally seeing 17 minutes right on the front of the bag!)
This was a great dish, easy to make, good flavor and I would make it again (with prettier chicken of course!) Thanks to Yoko!
A fun book (Thanks Jo!) and a terrific meal to go with it--the pleasures of Cook The Books! The deadline for this round is November 8 and Jo will be posting a round-up of all the dishes after that on the CTB site. If you love reading foodie books and cooking delicious dishes come join us. You can find the CTB details here and the next 3 books we will be reading here.
By next Tuesday I promise I will find some things to love. ;-) And I will be back tomorrow with another post (The goal is 30 posts in 30 days for November's NaBloPoMo).