Riesling is not only one of my
favourite grapes, but the main
ingredient in one of my favourite dishes, a spin on
the classic coq au vin from pretty Alsace on the
Franco-German border. The characteristic sweet
and sour profile of the grape makes this lighter
and tangier than the Burgundian red wine version,
which I think makes it perfect for the fading
warmth of autumn, or indeed for a weekend lunch
throughout the winter, preferably with a big bowl
of buttered noodles and a sharply dressed green
salad alongside. An added bonus for the cook:
there's just enough wine leftover to enjoy a glass
or two during the preparation!
Coq au Riesling
- 8 chicken thighs, skin off
- ½ head of garlic, cut in half laterally
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
- 1 tsp coarse salt
- 500ml medium-dry riesling
- 100g butter
- 175g chunky bacon lardons
- 4 leeks, finely sliced
- 200g baby chestnut mushrooms (half or
quarter larger ones)
- 1 tbsp flour
- 350ml good chicken stock
- 100ml crème fraîche
- 1 egg yolk
- Sprinkling of chopped flat-leaf parsley, to
- 4 green grapes, halved, to garnish (optional)
Put the chicken in a bowl with the garlic, bay and thyme leaves and salt. Pour in the
wine, cover and marinade in a cool place for at least 2 hours, and up to 12.
Melt roughly a quarter of the butter in a large pan over a medium-high heat and fry
the bacon until golden. Scoop out with a slotted spoon, add another quarter of the
butter and fry the leeks with a pinch of salt until soft and beginning to caramelise.
Scoop out with a slotted spoon and add to the bacon. Repeat with the mushrooms,
and then scoop out and put with the other two.
Melt the remaining butter, turn up the heat slightly and remove the chicken from
the wine, saving this for later. Pat the meat dry then fry until golden. Scoop out,
leaving as much fat in the pan as possible and put in a separate dish to the bacon and
Turn down the heat and add the flour to the hot pan. Cook for a minute or so,
stirring, then pour in the wine, garlic and herb marinade, scraping the base of the
pan as you do so.
Add the stock and chicken, bring to a simmer, then cover, turn down the heat and
cook for an hour and a half, until the meat is falling from the bones. Take the chicken
out of the pan.
Whisk together the crème fraîche and egg yolk, then take the pan off the heat and
whisk this into the sauce.
Put the pan back on a very gentle heat and cook, stirring regularly, until the sauce
thickens very slightly. Stir in the lardons, leeks, mushrooms and chicken (you can
strip this from the bone first if you prefer) and season. Serve garnished with parsley
and grapes, if using.