17:23 | Posted by Nim Headland | Category

Nigel Slater's Coq Au Riesling

Nigel Slater is by far my favourite food writer, and I think most people who read cookbooks for pleasure as well as for recipes would agree. His recipes are unpretentious, glorious and simple enough that anyone can have a stab and be pleased with the results. His writing is a delight; full of unrestrained, childlike glee for great food. I am currently cooking my way though Real Food, which is a wonderful book, a best seller and an award winner. The Guardian recommends that we buy Real Food for someone we love.

Real Food is written in sections as opposed to chapters or courses. You have Potatoes, Chicken, Sausages, Garlic, Bread, Cheese, Ice Cream and Chocolate. Nigel has picked his favourite foods and given us his best recipes for each, and they are fantastic. This recipe for Coq Au Riesling is becoming a firm favourite. The version I give here is slightly different from Nigel's, because I can't help but play with recipes and because Nigel's style of cooking invites you to experiment. So this is Coq Au Riesling to my taste, and I would encourage you to adapt to suit your own, that's the beauty of cooking like this. I found Nigel's cream-laden stew delicious, but slightly guilt-inducing so I have knocked 100ml of cream out. It is still very creamy! I substituted Nigel's suggested parsley with some dried tarragon, because it is so beautiful with chicken, wine and cream. I hate Rielsling, so mine was really Coq Au Sauvingnon Blanc, but that's just a matter of taste. Just use wine of a dryness that you'd be happy to drink. I also recommend only one piece of chicken per person, unless you have a really enormous appetite, (And I thought I did!) it is very filling. You might eat two smaller pieces if you serve it as Nigel does, with just a simple green salad, whereas if you go the whole hog (like I do!) and have potatoes and a veg, one piece really will be plenty.

This dish keeps beautifully in the fridge for a couple of days and is versatile, so by all means make it all and keep it for later in the week if you can't finish it. I did this, serving it firstly with saute potatoes and tenderstem broccoli and then again a few days later with Dauphinoise and buttered spinach. Yum.

Here is my version. If you want to make it by the book, double the chicken pieces, use a medium-dry wine instead of a dry one, add another 100ml of cream and replace the tarragon with 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley.

For 2:

50g butter
A tablespoon of olive oil
100g streaky bacon or pancetta, diced.
2 small to medium onions, peeled and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
2 joints of chicken on the bone
200g small brown mushrooms, halved or quartered
500ml dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc
200ml double cream
1/2 tbsp dried tarragon

Melt the butter in a heavy based casserole and pour in the oil. Put in the diced bacon or pancetta and let it colour a little, then add the onions and garlic. Leave to cook over a moderate heat until the onions have softened but not yet coloured. Scoop the bacon and onions out with a draining spoon, leaving behind the cooking juices, then add the chicken pieces. Let the brown lightly on all sides. A moderate heat is best for this, but be prepared to add a little more oil if the butter shows signs of browning.
Add the mushrooms and continue cooking for a few minutes, then return the bacon and onions to the pan. Turn up the heat, pour in the wine, bring quickly to the boil and then turn it down to a simmer. Let everything cook at a gentle bubble for twenty-five minutes, turning the chicken from time to time.
Lift the chicken out of the pan and pour in the cream. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and stir in the tarragon. Continue cooking, at an enthusiastic bubble, until the cream starts to thicken slightly. Return the chicken pan. When the chicken is throughly hot and the sauce has the thickness of double cream, serve.


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