WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS: This richer, subtler take on coq au vin swaps dry white wine for red, but creating this classic required more than just a change in wine. Sticking to tradition, we began by cutting a whole chicken into parts. To establish a meaty base, we cooked chopped bacon pieces and used the rendered fat to brown the chicken wings and back as well as the flavorful skins removed from the breasts, drumsticks, and thighs. These elements, though not part of the finished dish, contributed a rich base of flavor. A generous mirepoix of shallots, carrots, celery, and garlic, added with flour, solidified the complex flavor profile. Stirring in just 2½ cups of dry Riesling created a crisp, balanced finish. With the flavors in place, we added water, herbs, and the chicken pieces, cooking over low heat. Once cooked, we removed the chicken, discarded the back and wings, and strained the liquid to finish off the sauce. While the liquid settled, we used the empty pot to sauté white mushrooms with some of the reserved fat. We returned the liquid back to the pot, brought it to a simmer to thicken, and added tangy crème fraîche for an elegantly creamy finish.
SERVES 4 TO 6
A dry Riesling is the best wine for this recipe, but a Sauvignon Blanc or Chablis will also work. Avoid a heavily oaked wine such as Chardonnay. Serve the stew with egg noodles or mashed potatoes.
1. Remove skin from chicken breast pieces, drumsticks, and thighs and set aside. Sprinkle both sides of chicken pieces with 1¼ teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon pepper; set aside. Cook bacon in large Dutch oven over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until beginning to render, 2 to 4 minutes. Add chicken skin, back, and wings to pot; increase heat to medium; and cook, stirring frequently, until bacon is browned, skin is rendered, and chicken back and wings are browned on all sides, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove pot from heat and carefully transfer 2 tablespoons fat to small bowl and set aside.
2. Return pot to medium heat. Add shallots, carrots, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, 4 to 6 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until no dry flour remains, about 30 seconds. Slowly add wine, scraping up any browned bits. Increase heat to high and simmer until mixture is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in water, bay leaves, parsley sprigs, and thyme and bring to simmer. Place chicken pieces in even layer in pot, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until breasts register 160 degrees and thighs and legs register 175 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking. Transfer chicken pieces to plate as they come up to temperature.
3. Discard back and wings. Strain cooking liquid through fine-mesh strainer set over large bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids. Let cooking liquid settle for 10 minutes. Using wide shallow spoon, skim fat from surface and discard.
4. While liquid settles, return pot to medium heat and add reserved fat, mushrooms, and ¼ teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
5. Return liquid to pot and bring to boil. Simmer briskly, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened to consistency of heavy cream, 4 to 6 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in crème fraîche and minced parsley. Return chicken to pot along with any accumulated juices, cover, and cook until just heated through, 5 to 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.