Put “au Vin” at the end of any dish title and you better believe it’s going to be great! Im always down for a recipe that starts with opening a good bottle of wine, knowing that typically there will be enough leftover for the chef to enjoy a glass or two. If you’re looking for an excuse to pop the top on your favorite dry white wine, besides the fact that it’s been a long Wednesday, here is your opportunity! This delicious Coq au Vin Blanc is sure to please. It’s elegant and indulgent, yet at the same time fuss-free and rustic. Traditionally, Coq au Vin is made with red wine, but I intentionally made the swap to white mainly because I find purple chicken meat slightly unappealing (even if it tastes good), and I find that white wine keeps this dish a little lighter and brighter for the season.
You could totally make this dish with a whole chicken cut into pieces, but I personally prefer the flavor and texture of dark meat in a braise situation. Thighs and drumsticks are so much more forgiving in this type of cooking process- they’re much harder to overcook! Breast meat tends to get a little tough and stringy when simmered for a long time, so I typically forgo it in recipes like this one.
The next ingredients are pretty classic with a few twists. Lardons, or thick strips of bacon cut crosswise into little batons, start the show off, and their rendered gold becomes the main cooking fat for the chicken and vegetables. I love the sweeter, more delicate oniony flavor of leeks, so I subbed those in for the more traditional peeled whole pearl onions (which are a big pain in the you know what to deal with anyway). Then, I probably add more herbs than the typical Coq au Vin calls for because I’m herb obsessed and it’s spring! Once you have chopped and browned everything, the cooking process is fairly hands off. Just pour in the vin blanc, pour a glass for yourself, partially cover the pot with a lid and go about your busines! This recipe makes a great entertaining choice since it can be made ahead, chilled and gently reheated- and the flavor will be even better! I like to serve the herb sprinkled chicken ladled over something starchy to soak up all that glorious wine-laced sauce: think mashed potatoes, noodles, rice or polenta. A green salad on the side, and of course another glass of white wine, is all that’s needed to complete the meal!
prep time: ~15 min. cook time: ~1 hr. and 15 min. serves: ~6
INGREDIENTS 4 thick slices bacon, cut into lardons
4 bone in, skin on chicken thighs
4 bone in, skin on drumsticks
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 large leeks, white and light green parts only, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 large carrot, diced
4 plump cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley, plus extra for garnish
2 tbsp chopped tarragon, plus extra for garnish
8 oz sliced white mushrooms
1 rounded tablespoon all purpose flour
2-1/2 cups dry white wine, such as pinot gris or sauvignon blanc
1 cup chicken stock
Add the bacon lardons to the bottom of a cool, dry Dutch oven and turn the heat to medium. Begin to gently cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until most of the fat has rendered and it has lightly started to brown, not crisp. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked bacon to a plate, reserving the bacon fat left in the pot and leaving the heat on.
Season the chicken pieces all over with salt and pepper. Brown the chicken in the reserved bacon fat, about 3 minutes per side until golden. Work in batches so that you don’t crowd the pot. Once golden, remove the chicken pieces to plate and set aside.
Add the olive oil to the pot and toss in the leeks, carrot, garlic and a big pinch of salt. Give the veggies a stir and cook over medium heat to sweat about 7-10 minutes, until they have softened considerably. Stir in the mushrooms and herbs and cook 5 minutes more.
Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir to evenly coat. Cook for 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally, and then pour in the white wine and chicken stock. Use a wooden spoon to loosen any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Season with 2 tsp kosher salt and 1/2 tsp ground black pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Add the chicken pieces and bacon back into the pot, pouring in any juices from the chicken plate. Partially cover the pot with a lid, and cook for about 45 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and tender. Check for seasoning. If the sauce is too thin at this point, you can remove the chicken to a plate, turn up the heat and vigorously simmer the sauce uncovered for another 5-10 minutes to thicken. Return the chicken to the pot before serving.
Serve the chicken warm with an ample ladleful of sauce and a generous sprinkle of herbs. This is best enjoyed over potatoes, noodles, rice or polenta and can be made up to 24 hours ahead, chilled and then gently reheated before serving. Bon appetit!