Chicken in Riesling

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| March 2008

Ruth Cousineau

yield: Makes 4 servings

active time: 30 min

total time: 1 hr

Though coq au vin made with red wine is perhaps the best-known incarnation of the French dish in this country, most regions of France have unique versions that take advantage of local wines. Alsace's dry Riesling lends a gentle richness to this creamy, comforting meal.


1 whole chicken (about 3 1/2 pound), backbone discarded and chicken cut French style into 8 pieces (see cooks' note, below)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

4 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), finely chopped (2 cups)

2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot

4 medium carrots, halved diagonally

1 cup dry white wine (preferably Alsatian Riesling)

1 1/2 pound small (2-inch) red potatoes

2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1/2 cup crème fraîche or heavy cream

Fresh lemon juice to taste

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Preheat oven to 350F with rack in middle.

Pat chicken dry and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and a rounded 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Heat oil with 1 tablespoon butter in a wide 3 1/2- to 5-quart heavy ovenproof pot over medium-high heat until foam subsides, then brown chicken in 2 batches, turning once, about 10 minutes total per batch. Transfer to a plate.

Meanwhile, wash leeks and pat dry.

Pour off fat from pot, then cook leeks, shallot, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in remaining 2 tablespoons butter, covered, over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until leeks are pale golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Add chicken, skin sides up, with any juices from plate, carrots, and wine and boil until liquid is reduced by half, 3 to 4 minutes. Cover pot and braise chicken in oven until cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes.

While chicken braises, peel potatoes, then generously cover with cold water in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan and add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer until potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes. Drain in a colander, then return to saucepan. Add parsley and shake to coat.

Stir crème fraîche into chicken mixture and season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice, then add potatoes.

Cooks' note: A chicken cut French style yields 2 breast halves with wings attached, halved crosswise for a total of 4 breast pieces, 2 drumsticks, and 2 thighs. If you don't want to cut up a whole chicken, you can use 3 pounds chicken parts.

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