This is one of those recipes I’ve had banging around my ‘make this’ folder for quite a while; and the weather, the sales flyer at our local market, and the occasion – October Game Night – all came together to make me haul out the big pot and make me some chicken stew. Yup – for all the charming Frenchiness of the name, this is, at heart, a very good, very simple to make, stew – the Alsatian variant on coq au vin, which uses Riesling instead of the more traditional Burgundy.
The recipe, as presented by Nigella Lawson in her book Nigella Express, calls for using dill, and adding ‘shrooms, neither of which I did because, number one, I loathe dill (except in pickles), and, number two, one of our Game Night dinner guests does not handle funguses well. No worries; fresh parsley in place of the dill was lovely, and while the ‘shrooms would’ve been nice, not having a dinner guest keel over at the table was nicer still.
For the Riesling, I opted for a Zeller Schwarze Katz because, ermmm, I had a coupon. Worked a treat in the stew, and, as it happened, in another of our Game Night dinner guests, who now has a new favorite wine.
Nigella serves her coq au riesling over buttered noodles, and mentions an option of stirring in some cream at the last; I served mine with toasted homemade sourdough bread to sop up all that chicken and wine goodness and left out the cream. A schmear of roasted garlic on the bread would’ve been nice, but all in all a fine fall dinner.
•2 tbsp garlic-infused oil – I used olive oil and 3 cloves of garlic, diced
•1 cup cubed bacon – I used a 12 oz packet of uncured bacon that I sliced into chunks
•2 leeks, finely sliced
•12 chicken thighs
•1 bottle Riesling wine
•4 cups oyster mushrooms, torn into strips
•3 bay leaves
•Salt and pepper to taste
•Parsley (or, you could use the dill)
•Heavy cream, optional
Heat the oil in a large pan, then add the garlic and cook for a minute or so.
Add the bacon and fry until crisp, then pop in the sliced leeks and stir together for a minute or two, just until the leeks are softened. Remove the bacon and leeks to a platter and set aside.
I left the skin on my chicken thighs, which meant I needed to do this next step – browning them – but you could just remove the skins and skip ahead if you like.
Brown the chicken in the olive oil/bacon fat just until the skin is browned, removing the browned pieces to the platter with the bacon and leeks as they’re finished. My chicken skin turned out OK – but there were some lovely crispy bits in the bottom of the pan that I believe added a lot of flavor, so this step was, in the end, a good thing.
Bacon, leeks and chicken all prepped and good to go, pour off the fat and deglaze your pan with a dash of the wine and scrape up all those lovely little crispy bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.
Return the chicken, bacon, and leeks to the pan, add the bay leaves and a bit of salt and pepper, then pour the remainder of that bottle of wine over all and stir to combine.
Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat, cover, and simmer for thirty or forty minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
You COULD eat your stew at this point, adding the cream at the last, if you’re going that route, and sprinkling the chopped fresh parsley over all, but how much more better to pull the pot off the heat to cool, then stash it in the fridge overnight for the flavors to fully blend? Perfect.
Next day, simply pull the pot out of the fridge to come to room temperature, then gently reheat over a low flame (or in the oven, if you like). Again, add the the cream – if you’re using it – at the last, then serve with buttered noodles or crusty bread and freshly chopped parsley over all. As I noted above, I didn’t use the cream and thought it a fine dinner.
Rich, however, was intrigued, so when we had it the next night for leftovers, I deboned the chicken before reheating the stew, then stirred in a small container of heavy cream, a bit more freshly ground black pepper, and a dash or three of Tabasco sauce. Once the cream was warmed, I stirred in a bit of fresh parsley and served it all over those buttered noodles I had eschewed the night before.
With the cream and the noodles, you could be thinking this a lot like a tetrazzini. You would be wrong.
This is heaven on a plate and you have got to try it.