It was Henry IV of France who declared in the 16th century that on Sunday all his subjects should have a chicken to put in the pot. Of course he wasn't thinking of his Jewish subjects in Alsace, but they took his words to heart, cooking their chickens in some of the local Riesling wine, but on Friday, not Sunday.
Alas, they didn't find wine of any kind when they moved to the Pale of Settlement, but I like to think that this Yom Tov we're carrying on a very old tradition when we make this delectable Coq au Riesling. Cooking the chicken in the fruity Riesling sauce gives it a wonderful rich flavour. If possible, use Alsatian Riesling which is a little drier and more complex than ordinary Riesling.
Serves 6-8. Freeze 2 months.
6-8 chicken good-sized breasts on the bone
2 heaped tbsp (25 g,1 oz) flour seasoned with 1 teasp salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 large (8 oz/225 g) onion, finely chopped
350 g (12 oz) button mushrooms
275 ml (10 fl oz) Riesling d'Alsace
275 ml (10 fl oz) strong chicken stock
2 teasp herbes de Provence
-Preheat the oven to 200C (Gas 6).
-Coat the chicken breasts thinly with the seasoned flour by shaking each one in a plastic bag, then patting off any excess flour.
-Fry in oil over medium heat until a rich brown.
-Remove from the pan, drain on paper towels and then put into a casserole.
-Add the onion to the same fat and cook gently until softened and golden - about 5 minutes.
-Add the whole mushrooms (stalks trimmed off level with the caps) and cook with the onions for a further 3 or 4 minutes until they have become softened, then add the wine and bubble fiercely for 2 minutes to reduce its acidity and also to concentrate the flavour.
-Add the stock and herbs and pour over the chicken, which should be half covered by the sauce.
-Cover and cook in the oven for 15 minutes until bubbly. Reduce the temperature to 160C (325F, Gas 3) and cook for a further 20 minutes or until just cooked through at the bone.
-Transfer the chicken to a serving dish and keep warm under foil.
-Meanwhile, return the casserole to the oven and cook uncovered for a further 10-15 minutes to reduce the sauce. If the sauce is still too thin, bubble it on top of the stove until syrupy.
-Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve. If you prefer to serve it in the casserole, return the chicken breasts to the casserole and spoon the sauce over them.