Behind the Dish: Coq au Riesling

Today’s James Beard Project dish is inspired by the cuisine of the Alsace region of France, in the east along the Rhine River at the German border. The cooking of this area has, of course, been heavily influenced by German cuisine, and that influence shows here. Coq au Riesling is a variation on the traditional French coq au vin dish that, instead of using the usual red Burgundy wine, uses a sweet Alsatian white Riesling instead.

The chicken is browned in butter to which oil and flour are added. Salt pork then goes in to flavor the dish further. Its fat is rendered, and sliced mushrooms, shallots, onions and carrots are added. The chicken is flambéed with cognac and seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic before the Riesling is added and the dish is simmered. Following the simmering, the sauce is thickened with a beurre manié — a dough of equal parts soft butter and flour.

James Beard’s recipe calls for the completed Coq au Riesling to be served over pasta noodles, which figure largely in Alsatian cuisine. However, we’re substituting a traditional German form of noodle, the small dumplings known (and again, well known to many ethnic Clevelanders) as spätzle. We think they do an excellent job of soaking up the rich, delicious sauce. Of course, there’s one way for you to find out, and we highly recommend that you stop by tonight to conduct your own taste test…perhaps with a nice glass of Riesling alongside.

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