11 October 2010

Canadian Thanksgiving, German Riesling, and French Chicken

Happy Thanksgiving, or joyeux jour d'action de grâce, to our neighbors in the True North strong and free. I've always thought that those of us below the 49th parallel ought not to limit ourselves to one Thanksgiving. We're harvesting year round, so I think we ought to have at least quarterly celebrations in which friends and family gather 'round to celebrate the bounty of the land.

In honor of Canadian Thanksgiving, this weekend I made a French/German recipe with a couple of German wines in the company of assorted mutts from all over.

I found this interesting Coq au Riesling recipe via Serious Eats. It's similar to the traditional classic coq au vin, but made with Riesling instead of red wine. It gives it a little lighter look, and allows for a stronger contribution from the onions and mushrooms. I skipped the butter--it's a bit ridiculous to add butter when you've got so much pork and chicken fat involved in the recipe. I served it with some tiny thin asparagus and bowtie pasta that had been tossed in Chilean olive oil and fresh parsley. Big hit at dinner, and while the dish is a little time consuming (there's a lot of moving the chicken in and out of the dish at varying stages of doneness), I was very happy with how it turned out.

I added 175mL/¾ Cup of each Riesling to the recipe. They worked well, but here's how the wines tasted on their own. And I'll say that this is a recipe where using the same wine that you're drinking really helps make the meal sing.

2007 Josef Leitz Riesling Kabinett
Rüdesheimer Rosengarten, Rheingau
$22, 8.5% abv.
This was the sweeter of the two, full of fruit. It has tiny little bubbles clinging to the side of the glass, with lots of apple and pear. As it warms up you almost get a little pineapple acidity. It's not terribly sweet, and manages not to be heavy or cloying. Great Thanksgiving wine, and I'm talking about the turkey and sweet potatoes kind of Thanksgiving we're more familiar with down here. And such a low alcohol content means that folks who don't drink much wine can enjoy a glass or two without getting tipsy.

2008 Weingut Peter Jakob Kühn Riesling Trocken
Jacobus, Rheingau
€8.60, 11.5% abv.
Hasn't quite made it to the US, but this is the entry-level wine in the Kühn profile. This biodynamic and VDP wine is dry and light. It has two elements that I love in good Riesling: minerality and a hint of petrol. The latter is barely noticeable, and mainly what you have is a very mild wine with just a touch of lemony acidity and light green apple flavor. Consider this one for mild dishes like poached trout or vichyssoise.

The other big event of the evening was the very special dinner guest, Bella. Paul adopted Bella last week--she's a five month old Jack Russell terrier mix, found via Tri County Animal Rescue of Horn Lake, Mississippi. It was funny to see the older dogs playing with such a young pup, and they all got along pretty well together. Welcome to the pack, Bella, and to everyone else, remember that there's a lot of dogs out there that need good homes.

Note: These wines were received as samples.


fredric koeppel said...

Greetings from Mendoza! and our thanks to Paul for taking a rescued dog from the great abyss of the stray and abandoned.

Benito said...


Hope you're having fun down in Argentina, and Bella is a wonderful little dog. Might swipe her at some point if you want the Carolinas to chase a quick little white dog. :)


Joe said...

Coq au Riesling sounds coq au awesome.

I think I've heard that every region in france has some variation of coq au vin. I've always made it with cheap red burg (as I've read it's most-popularly a Burgundian dish). However, I'd love to try with some Northern Rhône (like a co-fermented Syrah/Viognier), but I imagine that wouldn't be an economical choice. Maybe some Loire Cab Franc.

Or, I will do as one Benito Q. Carter does, and go the Riesling route.

Oddly enough, the word verification for this post is "coquishi". I imagine that's how you describe this dish if the chicken gets too squishy.

Benito said...


I think it's mostly a "use whatever chicken + booze combination is handy" kind of thing. Best with an old rooster and some aged Burgundy, but fine with a young hen and bright Chianti. I imagine even Kenny Powers might cook Big Red in some of that Mexican wine if'n he got hungry enough, because that's how Kenny Powers rolls.

Seriously though, the nice part about the Riesling is the touch of sweetness and acidity while not being so strong as to overwhelm the other ingredients. It's essentially the same dish as bœuf bourguignon, but a white wine lets the more delicate chicken flavors shine.


Samantha Dugan said...

The best one I ever had was in Sancerre cooked with, you guessed it...Sancerre. Great acidity and I dug the lemony tang.

Benito said...


I bet that was incredible. I've had mixed results cooking with Sauvignon Blanc, but I bet something as well-balanced as Sancerre would work beautifully.


Michelle said...

Bella is adorable and I'm sure she fits in with the pack!

Benito said...


Can't wait for you to meet her. She's a sweetheart.