Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Coq Au Riesling (Chicken with Riesling) for Cook The Books: "French Lessons"

The last 12 weeks, Tuesdays have been the day for my "Things I Am Loving This Week" posts but this week I could only think of one thing I loved, (what can I say--it has been one of *those* weeks), so I am taking a break until next Tuesday and instead we will be talking Cook The Books. If you are not familiar with Cook The Books it is the bi-monthly virtual foodie book club founded and hosted by Rachel at The Crispy Cook, Johanna of Food Junkie Not Junk Food and me.

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
(Serves 6)

1 chicken weighing about 1.500 kg (about 3 1/2 lbs)
50 g butter (3.5 Tbsp)
3 shallots
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).


  1. This looks like a great version of coq au vin. I've always made it with red wine, but I like the sound of a more subtle sauce with the delicate flavors of chicken. Sorry to hear about the guy who butchered your chicken to pieces. Aii-yai-yaii!

  2. This is one of my favorite chicken dishes. I know for sure I prefer it to Coq au Vin. I have a wonderful recipe on my site that I think you might really enjoy.

  3. I love to use Riesling wine in cooking, it adds such a unique flavor! Especially love adding a bit of Riesling to fruit desserts...so yummy!

  4. Nice variation on the original. The Riesling's sweetness probably works well here.

  5. I can't believe the butcher hacked that poor chicken. 20 pieces? A bit extreme - but oh well.

    The end result looks fabulous, too bad you don't have smell-o-vision.

  6. The color is a lot nicer than Coq au Vin. Thank you! But, I'd have to use homemade spaetzle. :)

  7. I'm having the worst time deciding on what to make for Mayle's book. This coq au Riesling sounds very tasty. I agree about the greyish-purple chicken one gets with coq au vin (though the taste usually makes up for it). I probably couldn't get a butcher to chop a chicken up like that for me--I cut it in small pieces for my chicken Scarpariello. A great dish for this month's CTB.

  8. C'est si bon! I love Riesling and Gewurztraminer wines and I'll bet the chicken loved its bath in wine, shallots and herbs too. Great Cook the Books post!

  9. Deb, Mayle's "A Year in Provence" is such a great book. I remember that PBS did a series that was not only beautiful to watch, but the food was incredible. Your recipe today is a great example of French cooking and I agree the chicken here has a wonderful flavor & color. Love your book reviews and thanks.

  10. Is coq au riesling an actual traditional thing? I had no idea! I have made Nigella's version so many times and thought she was just clever! This looks really delicious - I definitely prefer it to the red wine version.

  11. Riesling is my favourite white wine, I love this dish! I haven't made coq au riesling before but it is on the list.
    Plus, you get to say coq - and that makes the 8-year-old in me giggle.
    I love Mayle's writing too, his laid-back wit and easy style makes armchair traveling a delight.

  12. I don't really care for chicken cooked with red wine. So, I find the riesling very promising indeed!

  13. I learned something new, today. Love this version using a white wine. I didn't care for the color of coq au vin, so you solved my dilemma. How fun to flambe' this with brandy. I'm bookmarking this one for a romantic dinner. Looks terrific. You know how much I love to cook with wine!

  14. I've been looking at Nigella's version of Coq Au Riesling and thinking it looked much nicer than Coq Au Vin. I prefer white wines and think the flavor of the Riesling would be much nicer. Your picture is very vibrant. Did you get a new camera? Looks great!

  15. I like white wine much more than red with chicken. This looks absolutely delicious and so comforting! Funny about the butcher!

  16. I enjoy his books and have this one on my shelf, I hope to read it soon :)

  17. I've heard good things about coq au riesling and should make it sometime to compare it with coq au vin.

    I love it when I say things to the Whole Foods people and they look at me like I'm crazy. (WTF is a kabocha was what I got at the cashier last week). It makes me feel like such a foodie.

    Great review of the book and great CTB entry!

  18. The white wine would add it's own gentle characteristics to this dish. I remember making this dish along with the BB.

  19. I love Coq au Riesling and I actually prefer it to Coq au vin, as it is slightly lighter. I hope you won't go to that butcher again!

  20. I think this sounds delicious and I'm going to make it. Let's just hope I don't set the kitchen on fire.

  21. Lovely recipe. I recently made Chicken in Riesling from Gourmet (via Epicurious). So delicious! Their recipe includes leeks and leaves out the cognac and mushrooms. Next time I'm going to try it with cognac as in your version.

  22. Duh (butcher), stew pieces...who cuts chicken in stew pieces...LOL!! Oh well, it looks & sounds good anyway. I'm bummed that I didn't participate this time, but I just could not finish this book. Bummer.

  23. Your Coq Au Reisling looks great - we have this quite a lot too, and the leftovers make a great pie filling. Sadly I am going to miss this month's Cook The Books - we are still finishing renovating and my copy of the book is somewhere in one of a dozen giant book boxes, still waiting for me to read it. I'll be back next month!

  24. this looks delicious - i made a similar dish for the cookthebooks event too. the addition of spaetzle makes this dish even tastier

  25. Your encounter with the "butcher" was funny. I agree, a white wine such as Riesling is more of a natural pairing with chicken.


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