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Sautéed Chicken in Riesling

Sautéed Chicken in Riesling
The Alsace is a land of orchards and grain fields, of medieval villages and storybook castles, of sauerkraut and beer. It includes stretches of both the Rhine River and the Vosges Mountains, and is home to some of the best white wines in France, among them parchment-dry Rieslings that Parisians use in the kitchen and pour at the table. In this recipe, Alsatian Riesling becomes the base for a sauce enriched with cream and seasoned with tarragon, an herb more fully established in the French pantry than in any other.

Serve with a fragrant, dry Riesling or a crisp white wine from the Loire, such as a Jasnières or Sancerre.

Ingredients:

  • 4 1⁄2 lb. chicken pieces, preferably legs
     with thighs attached
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 to 8 shallots, about 1⁄2 lb. total, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 bottle dry Riesling
  • 3 Tbs. small pieces dried mushrooms,
     such as chanterelle, cèpe or fairy ring
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh tarragon
  • 3⁄4 cup heavy cream
  • A few drops fresh lemon juice (optional)
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh chives
  • 1 to 2 Tbs. chopped fresh chervil

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 350°F.

Rinse the chicken pieces and pat dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper, then rub with the olive oil. In a large, heavy nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat, brown the chicken in batches, turning occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes per batch. Transfer to a platter.

Pour off all but 1 Tbs. of the fat from the pan and return to medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the wine, increase the heat to high, bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms, stock and half of the tarragon. Pour the sauce into a roasting pan at least 4 inches deep and large enough to hold the chicken in a single layer. Arrange the chicken on the sauce.

Bake until the chicken is opaque throughout when pierced with a knife, 35 to 40 minutes. Increase the heat to 400°F and continue baking until the edges of the skin are crisp, about 5 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a deep platter and cover loosely with aluminum foil.

Spoon off any fat from the sauce. Place the pan over high heat, bring the sauce to a boil and cook, stirring, until reduced by about half, 7 to 8 minutes. Stir in the cream. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Pour the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with the chives, chervil and the remaining tarragon. Serve immediately.
Serves 4 to 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Foods of the World Series, Paris, by Marlena Spieler (Oxmoor House, 2004).