I’m a big time red wine drinker, but I’m not as big of a fan of whites. I also don’t like overly fruity varietals, like Riesling. They are just way too sweet for my liking. But, I did get a bottle gifted to me and it’s been sitting in the bar, taking up precious alcohol space (according to my husband), so it needed to be used. I was a little nervous about using it in a recipe, especially one for coq au Riesling where it is the dominant ingredient. The flavor of wine concentrates as it cooks, and I was worried I’d end up with a pot of overly sweet chicken. But, my fears were totally unsubstantiated. This comforting dish had just a little bit of sweetness, and combined with the other ingredients (and the pasta, of course), it was really quite comforting.
Nigella doesn’t really specify whether you should use bone-in chicken thighs, but I did for two reasons: 1. frugality (much cheaper to buy bone-in and then skin yourself) and 2. taste. The bones add so much more flavor to the stewing liquid than just the meat would. Now, this obviously leaves you with bones to deal with in the final product, but since this simmers for an hour, the chicken just shreds effortlessly. You can either shred it and add it back to the pot, or you can just put a whole chicken thigh or two per plate (which is what we did).
I halved the original recipe and made a few other changes, based on what I had around. The entire recipe is supposed to make 6 servings, but we got 6 from the halved serving (1 thigh per person, plus egg noodles). It will just depend on your appetite, your typical portion size, and what you serve with it (roasted asparagus and the aforementioned whole wheat egg noodles for us).
Coq au Riesling
Adapted from Nigella Lawson
3 thick slices of bacon, chopped
6 chicken thighs, bone-in and skin off
1 leek, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 oz. cremini mushrooms, cut in half
2 bay leaves
1/2 bottle Riesling
3 Tbsp. chopped parsley
Heat a dutch oven over medium heat, and then add the bacon. Cook until bacon is slightly crispy and then remove with a slotted spoon. If there’s too much fat left in the pan, drain off some of it. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper and then add to the hot pan, browning for a couple minutes per side. Remove. Add the leek and cook until softened.
Deglaze the pan with the Riesling, and then add the chicken and bacon back in, as well as the mushrooms, bay leaves, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, cover, and then reduce to a simmer for one hour.
Season to taste and add the chopped parsley before serving.