Make two dishes in one: Coq au Vin and Penne w. Chicken in a White-wine Cream Sauce

Coq au Vin Reisling chicken

Coq au Vin Reisling chicken

Coq au Vin Reisling, serves 4 with leftovers

A new twist on an old favourite – Reisling replaces the more traditional Burgundy; it’s also quicker and easier to make than traditional coq-au-vin.  The original inspiration for this recipe came from one of my favourite cookbook authors Nigel Slater.  His philosophy towards cooking “use simple ingredients…” is one I embrace.  In my version, leeks and crimini mushrooms replace pearl onions and button mushrooms.  You will need: 

• Pancetta, 4 thin slices, chopped

• Extra virgin olive oil

• Chicken, organic if possible, 6 bone-in, skin on breasts

 Vidalia Sweet onion, one large, peeled and chopped

 Leeks, 2-3 (one bunch), trimmed, whites only, thinly sliced

• Crimini mushrooms, 1 pound, sliced

• Riesling, (or other medium-dry white wine), 1 bottle

I use a Le Creuset pot for this recipe but if you don’t have one, use any ovenproof pot.

Place the pot over medium-high heat and add the pancetta; cook until the fat is mostly rendered and the bacon is starting to crisp.  Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add some extra virgin olive oil if necessary then brown the chicken well on both sides, in separate batches if the pot is crowded.  Remove from the pan and set aside.

To the remaining oil, add the onions and leeks, season liberally with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook until translucent being carefully not to brown, about ten minutes.  Add in the mushrooms and cook for another minute or two.

Raise the heat and add in the riesling, stirring to get up any bits from the bottom of the pan and allow the vegetables to boil for about 2 minutes or until the wine is slightly reduced.  Return the bacon and chicken to the pot, cover, reduce the heat and cook at a gentle simmer for about 30-45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Though not shown in the photo, I like to serve this with crunchy roasted potatoes and steamed green beans along with a glass of the chilled riesling that I use to cook with.  To continue on the French theme and to turn this into an elegant dinner, start with a smooth chicken liver pate and cornichons and end with a chocolatey pudding.

When the extra chicken breasts and sauce have cooled down, put them in a smaller container, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Penne Pasta with Chicken in a White-wine Cream Sauce

Penne Pasta with Chicken in a White-wine Cream Sauce

Penne with Chicken in a White-wine Cream Sauce

You will need:

• Penne pasta, ½ box (I like deCecco brand)

• Leftover chicken and sauce, separated

• Whipping cream, 1 cup

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to the directions on the package; drain then return to the pot it was cooked in.

Meantime, in a separate pot, heat the leftover sauce then add in the cream and simmer until heated through and reduced slightly without bringing it to a boil.  Taste and check for seasoning, adding sea-salt and freshly ground black pepper if necessary.

Remove the skin from the chicken breasts and roughly tear the meat into chunks; add to the cream sauce in the pot.

When heated through, add the chicken and sauce to the pot with the cooked pasta and combine.  Let sit for a minute or two, covered, so that the flavours absorb into the penne.  Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped fresh Italian parsley.  If you’re lucky enough to have another bottle of riesling then a glass or two served alongside would be a great accompaniment for the meal.

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