Coq au Riesling with Hazelnut Spaetzle

Charles | February 25, 2010 | 0 Comments

Coq au Vin or rooster in wine is surely one of the oldest recipes in existence. Roosters to eat can be hard to come by as they have a job to do on the farm. Even retired roosters are rare and I imagine that most of them ended their earthly days as the star of this wonderful dish before they could ever make it to market.

Some legends trace this recipe all the way back to ancient Gaul and Julius Caesar. It didn’t, however, make it into a printed recipe until the early 20th century. The text in this recipe claims that it dates back to the 16th century.

Coq au Riesling with Hazelnut Spaetzle

Traditional Coq au Vin is usually thought of as a tough old bird braised in red wine, usually Burgundy. However, like most recipes, they get re-invented as they move from region to region. In Alsace, this dish is called Coq au Riesling and is a most elegant and lighter version of the original. Serving it with Spaetzle seems like the perfectly natural thing to do since Alsace has a rich heritage with both French and German influences.

Oregon has the climate and soil to grow many of the grapes that are staples of Alsace and Germany. Riesling, Müller-Thurgau and Gewürztraminer grapes all flourish here. Montinore Estate in Forest Grove produces a highly rated “Almost Dry Riesling” which I chose for this recipe.

Coq au Riesling
Recipe adapted from Gourmet and Jean-Georges Vongerichten in Food and Wine

  1. 1 roasting chicken cut into 10 pieces (I cut each breast piece in half)
  2. 5 tablespoons (75 ml.) unsalted butter
  3. 1 large shallot, minced
  4. 1/2 pound (227 gr.) small button mushrooms
  5. Salt and freshly ground pepper
  6. 2 1/2 tablespoons (37.5 ml.) brandy or Cognac (I used Oregon Pot Distilled Brandy from Clear Creek Distillery.)
  7. 1 cup (240 ml.) dry Riesling or a pinot blanc (if you can get Oregon wines, look for Montinore Estate Almost Dry Riesling.)
  8. 1 tablespoon (15 ml.) all-purpose flour
  9. 1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 ml.) dried thyme
  10. 1/2 cup (120 ml.) crème fraiche (if you can’t locate this, make your own by mixing a small amount of buttermilk with fresh heavy cream and leaving at room temperature for several hours or until it thickens.)
  • Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown in a large skillet in which you have melted 2 tablespoons (30 ml.) of the butter. This should take about 4 minutes per side.
  • Add the minced shallots and cook for a minute or two.
  • Remove the skillet from the heat, add the brandy or Cognac and ignite. When the flames subside, return to the heat and pour in the Riesling. Cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked, about 25-35 minutes. Remove the chicken to a warm platter, cover and keep warm.
  • In a sauté pan, melt two more tablespoons (30 ml.) of the butter. Add the mushrooms along with a pinch of salt and cook until all liquid evaporates and the mushrooms are lightly browned. Season with the thyme.
  • Make a beurre manié (equal parts of flour and butter kneaded together) with the flour and 1 tablespoon (15 ml.) of the butter.
  • Just before serving, add the beurre manié, stirring constantly and cook until the sauce thickens.
  • Add the crème fraiche, mushrooms and chicken and heat through.

Serve with the Hazelnut Spaetzle

Hazelnut Spaetzle
Adapted from a Gourmet recipe

  1. 1/2 cup (120 ml.) shelled, toasted and skinned hazelnuts*
  2. 2 cups (48o ml.) all-purpose flour
  3. 1 teaspoon (5 ml.) salt
  4. 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (210 ml.) water
  5. 2 large eggs
  6. 1 large egg yolk
  7. 1 tablespoon (15 ml.) roasted hazelnut oil plus more for drizzling
  8. 1/4 cup (60 ml.) unsalted butter
  9. Freshly ground nutmeg to taste
  • Put the cooled hazelnuts along with 1/2 cup (120 ml.) of the flour and the salt in a food processor and process until blended and the hazelnuts are finely ground.
  • Remove to a bowl and whisk in the wet ingredients until thoroughly blended. Stir in the remaining flour. Check the consistency and add more water or flour as needed. You want a pancake-like batter that will flow through a spaetzle maker, colander or potato ricer.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season with salt. Working in batches, add the batter to a spaetzle maker and allow the spaetzle to fall into the boiling water.
  • Cook for about 2-3 minutes and remove with a slotted spoon to a colander. Rinse with cold water.
  • Continue until all the spaetzle are cooked. You can prepare to this point up to two hours before serving.
  • Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the spaetzle, nutmeg and stir until heated through.
  • Drizzle with the hazelnut oil and serve.

* In her book, Brand-New Book of Great Cookies, Maida Heatter suggests the following for toasting and skinning hazelnuts:

“To skin hazelnuts, spread them on a jelly roll pan and bake at 350°F for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the skins parch and begin to flake off. Then wrap them in a towel and let them stand for 15 to 20 minutes. Then, working with a small amount of the nuts at a time, place them on a large, coarse towel (I use a terry cloth bath towel). Fold part of the towel over to enclose the nuts. Rub firmly against the towel, or hold that part of the towel between both hands and rub back and forth. The handling and the texture of the towel will cause most of the skins to flake off. Pick out the nuts and discard the skins. Don’t worry about the few little pieces of skin that may remain.”

Tradition dictates that you serve the same wine at the table that you used to braise your bird. The Montinore Estate 2008 Almost Dry Riesling proved to be an excellent choice.

Montinore Estate 2008 Almost Dry Riesling

“2008 was a picture-perfect year for Riesling with just enough rain late September to keep the vines going and then sunny, cool weather the last half of October allowing the Riesling to slowly reach perfect ripeness.  Our ’08 Almost Dry offers a beautiful aroma of lime, fresh flowers and tangerine with hints of lilac.  On the palate it has an elegant, almost silky yet fresh entry with flavors of grapefruit accented with mandarin and tangerine.  The finish shows the refreshing, palate-cleansing acidity with an almost imperceptible sweetness that accents the lingering citrus and mineral flavors.”


Bon appétit

— Charles

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Category: Chicken, Poultry

About the Author (Author Profile)

Music, food and photography are at the center of Charles’ life. He performed with the Dallas Symphony, Dallas Opera and was assistant principal bassoonist with the Fort Worth Symphony for more than 20 years. When Charles and Victor moved to Baltimore, Charles created Lone Star Personal Chef and Catering Service and taught cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma. Now in Salem, Charles is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Mountain West Real Estate, taught cooking classes for children at the A.C. Gilbert Discovery Village, and owns and operates Charles Price Photography. Charles and Vic enjoy entertaining and frequently host dinners as fundraisers for local non-profits and charities

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