10 December 2016

Cooking the coq au riesling

Well, it's not a coq, so it's not really coq au vin — at least the way I made it. It's a Guinea hen (une pintade). And it's more like coq au vin than like a classic fricassée. It's a recipe from Alsace, with elements of the two standard French recipes. It's made with white wine, and there's cream in the sauce. Coq au vin is made with red wine, and has no cream in it.

A classic fricassée of poultry, lamb, veal, or rabbit is a white stew. The fricassée sauce contains cream, as does this coq au riesling sauce. But for the fricassée, the poultry or meat is not browned first. The Larousse Gastronomique says it just should be "stiffened" (raidi) in a pan on low heat. For coq au vin or pintade au riesling, the pieces of poultry are first browned well in butter or vegetable oil.

Along with onions, or shallots, one of the main flavor ingredients in coq au vin is chunks of smoked pork belly, or lardons fumés. In this recipe, the pieces of coq, chicken, or pintade are browned first, taken out of the pan or pot, and set in a warming oven to wait. Then onions or shallots and garlic are sautéed with smoked lardons in the same pan. You can cut the lardons large or small. A splash of cognac or armagnac in the pan at this point can't hurt, whether you actually flambez it or not.

And there are mushrooms in it too, as in both fricassée and coq au vin. After the lardons and onions are cooked, you put the poultry pieces back in the pan or pot with them. You pour on, say, half a bottle of riesling wine (it's an off-dry white wine) and then enough water or broth to barely cover the poultry. Spread the mushrooms on top, push them into the liquid a little, cover the pan, and set it in the oven on medium-low heat for at least 40 minutes — or longer.

After an hour or so, take the pan out of the oven. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to lift out the poultry pieces and lardons, which again get set aside in a warm oven. Strain the mushrooms and onions out of the cooking liquid, pouring the liquid into a pot. Set the pot on medium-high heat and let the liquid reduce by about half. Then pour in a cup of cream and let it reduce again, until you like the consistency. Put the mushrooms and shallots back in. Don't waste anything.

Above are the cooked pintade and lardons waiting to be coated with the cream sauce, which you can thicken or not — your choice. Serve any extra sauce at the table, and accompany the coq au riesling with steamed or boiled potatoes, rice, or pasta.

Here's the recipe. If you want a translation, I can post one, or you can let Google translate it. You could also read Nigella Lawson's recipe that was published in the New York Times.

Coq au riesling
1 volaille de 1,5 kg
50 g de beurre
200 g de lardons fumés
3 échalotes
1 gousse d’ail
5 cl de cognac
40 cl de riesling
200 g de champignons
20 cl de crème fraîche
Sel et poivre

Découper la volaille (poulet, coq, poularde, pintade…).

Faire chauffer le beurre dans une cocotte. Faire revenir les morceaux
de volaille. Saler et poivrer. Réserver les morceaux de volaille au chaud.

Ajouter dans la cocotte les lardons, les échalotes, et l’ail hachés.
Flamber avec le cognac. Remettre la volaille. Déposer les champignons.
Rectifier l’assaisonnement. Laisser cuire 40 minutes à feu doux.

Retirer les morceaux de volaille et les déposer sur un plat de service.

Laisser réduire le jus de cuisson et ajouter la crème en remuant.

Verser la sauce sur la viande. Servir aussitôt.


  1. According to the recipe, it seems you just throw away the onions and mushrooms after the cooking liquid is strained. No?

    1. Hi Chm, I was wondering about that too? :) Martine

    2. No, you put the onions and mushrooms back in after reducing the sauce. I guess my description was not clear. You could probably leave the onions, mushrooms, and even the lardons in the sauce while it is reducing. (I throw almost nothing away...)

    3. LOL, Ken. It's not the first time that a French recipe miss one or more steps completely. I usually follow a recipe step by step, but you have to be imaginative sometimes.

    4. Tomorrow I'll be making une fricassée de poulet à la berrichonne... Do you know what that is?

    5. CHM, I think it was my description of what I did that was defective, not the recipe from the La Cuisine Alsacienne book. That recipe was just vague and sketchy... But with a little common sense, one figures it out. That recipe never mentions taking the mushrooms and onions out of the sauce before reducing it, but I didn't want the mushrooms overcooked and mushy.

    6. I have no idea about what the berrichonne could be. With lentilles vertes du Berry? Or do they use pintade instead of chicken?

    7. Tu verras. C'est une recette que j'ai trouvée dans le L.G.

  2. This looks wonderful. The one thing about coq au vin that I find unappealing is that the red wine turns the chicken red/purple.

    1. When the coq au vin is made in the traditional style, the sauce is thickened with the blood of the chicken. That makes the sauce and the pieces of chicken really black.

  3. I always learn something new about cooking when you post about your dinners :)

    1. I guess I should have gone into cooking as a profession. I was a short-order cook in N.C. back in 1970-71, at a fishing pier on the coast. But I really started being interested in cooking when I lived in Rouen (Normandy) in 1972-73. I didn't make enough money as an assistant d'anglais to be able to afford restaurant meals, and all the food looked so good that I wanted to cook and eat well. A woman I met there (the mother of a student) taught me a lot about French cooking, letting me help out in her kitchen and showing me what was involved.

  4. Always enjoy your cooking posts...BTW, I was surprised to find this online in English:

    1. Thanks. I hadn't found that recipe in English, but I did find this one, also in English. I hope that link works.

      I just finished cutting up a whole chicken (3 lbs.) for my version of the fricassée berrichonne, plus about ¾ lb. of carrots. I'll be cooking it all later this morning and then keeping it overnight in the fridge for tomorrow's lunch.

  5. I love the Grigson recipe! Especially the reference to "middle-aged carrots".


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