This month, our wine club is celebrating Julia Child’s birthday (August 15th, 1912) and giving a nod to the hit movie “Julie & Julia” which I think will do wonders for reviving interest in Julia and her message.
This classic dish from Julia Child (P. 287 of Mastering the Art of French Cooking) can be made with either white or red wine, though red is traditional. For this dish to be more complimentary to white wines, simply replace the red wine ingredient with white. In general, chicken is a versatile accompaniment to most any type of wine, depending on the chicken’s preparation, seasonings or sauce.
- 4 Ozs Lean bacon
- 1 Oz Butter
- ~ 3 Lb Frying chicken, cut into pieces
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- ¼ Cup Cognac
- ½ Bottle red wine
- 3 Cups chicken stock
- 1 tsp Tomato paste
- 2 Cloves garlic, mashed
- 1/3 tsp Thyme
- 1 Bay leaf (very small if California bay)
- 12-24 Small white boiling onions
- ½ Lb mushrooms, sliced medium
- 1 Oz Flour
- 1 Oz Butter, softened
- Parsley, chopped
Bring 2 Qts of water to a simmer. Cut the bacon into ¼ inch lardons and simmer for 10 minutes, then rinse in cold water and dry.
Over low heat, melt butter in Dutch oven or casserole dish, then add bacon. Sauté until lightly browned. Set bacon aside, leaving the fat in the pan.
Increase heat to medium high. Dry the chicken’s skin before placing it in the hot fat. When lightly browned, season with salt and pepper, add the bacon and cover. Reduce heat to medium and cook slowly for 10 minutes, turning chicken once.
Add the cognac and light it (it WILL flare up to 2+ feet, so take precautions!), then shake the pan until it goes out. Add the wine and then just enough stock to cover the chicken pieces. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, take out two sauté pans. In the first, brown the onions in butter and then add some of the remaining stock or red wine, simmering until very soft. In the other, melt butter and oil (~1 Tbsp ea) over high heat and brown the mushrooms for about ten minutes, turning only once (don’t crowd the pan, otherwise they steam).
Remove chicken to a side dish, and simmer its cooking liquid as you skim off the fat (tip the pan). Raise heat to a rapid boil and reduce liquid by half. Discard the bay leaf. Blend the soft butter and flour until smooth, then whisk into hot liquid and simmer for ~2 minutes. Arrange chicken in dish with mushrooms and onions, baste with sauce, top with chopped parsley and serve at table!
As mentioned above, this chicken dish spans a wide variety of dry table wines – just be sure to use the same type of wine in the dish as you serve at the table. Here are some of my favorites:
Chronicle Wines, 2006 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast $35
This is one of my favorite new discoveries. They have employed different winemakers for their pinots and their Zins (like the Chronicle ’06 Old Vine Zin from Russian River Valley – $28) – both of which are nicely nuanced and intelligent wines. A very tiny producer, this may just be the poster child for the sorts of wines I seek!
Elkhorn Peak, 2006 Chardonnay, Vineyard Select $28
I definitely prefer Coq au Burgundy to Coq au Burgundy Blanc, but for white wine lovers, this medium-weight Chardonnay goes well from stove to table. You may prefer a white wine with a bit less oak, which can sometimes conflict with food. But I’d avoid Sauvignon Blanc, which I think would reduce down until its grapefruit or grassiness would be turned up to eleven on the volume meter.
Quote of the Day
“In France, cooking is a serious art form and a national sport”
~ Julia Child, Food Visionary, Author and TV Personality (8/15/1912 – 8/13/04)