Sassy Southern Cooking with a French Twist

Super Stew Play for Game Day

Sack the chili and other usual Super Bowl menu suspects and throw a pass on this classic French stew: Coq au Vin. Make it ahead, serve and hear ’em roar! This one is a winner that the whole team will love on game day, but will prove a welcome player any day of the year.

(Adapted from my next cookbook, The French Cook: Soupes et Daubes, Gibbs Smith, August, 2014)

Coq au Pinot Gris with Mushrooms, Leeks and Dijon Mustard

Coq au Pinot Gris with Mushrooms, Leeks and Dijon Mustard

 

Coq au Pinot Gris with Mushrooms, Leeks and Dijon Mustard

(Makes 4 to 6 servings)

Chicken braised in wine is the basic formula for what’s called “coq au vin” (pronounced ‘coke o vaen’), which is at the heart of the cooking action in this recipe. The kind of wine, though typically a red (especially a Burgundy), can really be any grape varietal including Alsacienne-inspired Pinot Gris in this especially delicious, and slightly sweet version. Interpretations of this stunning French stew can be found throughout the France, but the classic garnishes typically include lardons (or substitute bacon), mushrooms and onions. This stew can (and really should) be made a day ahead to enrich flavors. If you choose to do so, add the cream and mustard just before serving. It’s exquisite alongside a mound of tender, buttered spaghetti.

2 large bone-in chicken breasts (about 3 1/2 pounds), cut horizontally into 4 equal-sized pieces, trimmed of excess fat, skin and small rib bones

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and finely chopped

1 leek, white and pale green part only, halved vertically, cleaned, and thinly sliced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Eight ounces (about 2 cups) white button mushrooms, feet trimmed, brushed clean and sliced about 1/4”-thick

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 cups good quality Pinot Gris (or substitute Riesling)

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves

1/3 cup heavy cream (Do not substitute Half & Half or milk!)

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Prep the chicken (being careful to remove any stray, spindly rib or spine bones) and season generously with salt and pepper on all sides. Heat the butter and olive oil in a 5 1/2 quart Dutch oven over high heat. When bubbling, add the chicken in a single layer, skin side down. Reduce heat to medium high and cook for 3 minutes, or until the skin is golden brown. Turn all of the chicken pieces and cook another 3 minutes on the second side. Using tongs, remove the chicken from the pan and reserve (I always use my inversed Dutch oven lid as a “plate” for this purpose). Reduce heat to medium low. Add the onion, garlic, leek and a dusting of salt and pepper. Stir to coat. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until the vegetables have softened, but not browned. Add the mushrooms, stir to combine, and cook another 3 minutes. Dust the flour evenly over the top, stir to combine, and cook 1 minute. Increase the heat to high. Add the Pinot Gris, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon to pick up any brown bits. Bring up to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Stir in the thyme. Return the reserved chicken to the pot, arranging in a single layer, about 3/4 covered with the wine. Cook, uncovered for 35 minutes or until the chicken is completely cooked and free of any pink juices (insert a small paring knife in a piece to be sure), stirring once or twice. When cooked, remove the chicken and reserve. Increase the heat under the pot to high and reduce the cooking liquid/wine by about 1/3; about 3 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. (Note: Return the chicken to the pan, cool and refrigerate overnight if serving the following day). To finish the stew just before serving, whisk in the heavy cream, parsley, and Dijon, and heat through. Serve warm over warm, buttered pasta or egg noodles. Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs.

Bon appetit!

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