Coq Au Riesling

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What attracted me to this dish when I saw Nigella Lawson preparing it on the Food Network was that the chicken did not require any browning, which definitely shortens the clean-up time. I admit, however, that I was skeptical, since I knew that without any color, the chicken might not be too visually appealing. Nevertheless, the ease of prep and minimal cooking time convinced me to go ahead.

I was more than pleased with how the dish turned out the first time and have made it several times since, making small adjustments to the original recipe. As for the esthetics, the fresh dill add a lot of color. The savory-bacon and woodsy-mushroom flavors of the broth when combined with the buttered noodles have prompted many a guest to ask for seconds.

Coq au Riesling Adapted from Nigella Lawson
Ingredients
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic peeled and lightly smashed
1 cup bacon sliced into 1/4 inch strips
1 1/2 leeks (finely sliced) Slice from the white just to where the leek starts to turn green.
12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2.75 pounds)
3 bay leaves
12 oz portabello mushrooms (torn into strips)
1 bottle dry riesling, ideally Alsatian.
salt (to taste)
fresh ground black pepper (to taste)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (to serve)
Buttered egg noodles to accompany.

Method
Heat the oil and garlic clove in a heavy bottomed Dutch oven and fry the bacon stripe until crisp Remove the garlic clove when it starts to take on color;

Add the sliced leeks and a pinch of salt and soften with the bacon for a minute or so.

Add the chicken thigh with the bay leaves, torn mushrooms and wine.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and bring to the boil. Cover the pot and simmer gently for 1 hour. Like all stews, this will taste even better the next day.

Serve sprinkled with dill and together with some buttered egg noodles.

Note: Do not skimp on the quality of the Riesling. It accounts for a lot of the flavor in this dish.

Here’s a link to the original recipe.

Wine Pairing: Dry Alsatian Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc

Veal Stew with Tomatoes and Peas – Adapted for “Detoxing”

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“Culinarily challenged” is how I felt this weekend, when a close friend coming to spend the 4th with us announced just before arrival that she was “food detoxing.” She explained that, during this period, she could not eat anything that had wheat, flour, sugar, any grain, most dairy products, including milk, cream, cheese, etc. The list seemed endless.

A roast chicken with sautéd spinach made up our first dinner. Breakfast the next day allowed for scrambled eggs with smoked salmon. When I asked her what she would enjoy for dinner, she said “something stewed.” Given what seemed like an endless list of prohibited foods, I thought of recipes with minimal ingredients, which led me to Marcella Hazan’s “Veal Stew with Tomatoes and Peas” from her Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. Veal, onions, peas, and tomatoes are the main players. The recipe also calls for some flour and butter in supporting roles, but I could easily work around those prohibited ingredients.

I’ve always enjoyed this stew, which calls for a much longer cooking of peas, fresh or frozen, than has become fashionable these days. But that lengthy time, at least an hour, extracts a lot of flavor from them, which integrates perfectly with the mild taste of the veal.

To make the dish my own, I also add some rehydrated dried porcini and some of their liquid when I add the peas. In addition, right before serving, I stir in a gremolata, made from minced garlic, lemon zest, and parsley, a condiment often used to garnish and enhance osso bucco.

Veal Stew with Tomatoes and Peas Adapted from Essentials of Italian Cooking

Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds of boned veal shoulder, cut into 1.5 inch cubes
3 tablespoons chopped red onion
Salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1 28-ounce can of Italian crushed tomatoes
12 ounces frozen green peas, thawed
1 ounce dried porcini, rehydrated in warm water. When the mushrooms have rehydrated, in about 20 minutes, strain the water through a fine sieve lined with cheesecloth or through a coffee filter, reserving a few tablespoons of the filtered water to add to the stew. Chop the mushrooms roughly.

For the gremolata
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped fine
1 small garlic clove, minced
Simply mix all of the above in a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap.

1. Put the olive oil in a non-reactive, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven, preferably enameled cast iron, and heat the oil on high. When the oil is hot, place as much of the meat that will fit loosely in a single layer, and brown on all sides, turning until all sides are well browned. Transfer the meat to a plate and season with salt and pepper. You may have to repeat this step to finish cooking all the meat.

2. Turn the heat down to medium and add the chopped onions. Cook, scraping up any browned pieces of veal, until the onions become a pale gold. At this point, return the meat and any remaining juices to the pot. Add the chopped tomatoes and their juice. Bring to a bubble and then lower the heat to allow for a slow simmer. Cover the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour.

3. After the hour, add the peas, the chopped mushrooms, and 2 tablespoons of the filtered soaking water. Cover again and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for an additional 1 hour or 1.5 hours, until the veal is very fork tender. Before serving, taste and adjust for seasoning. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the gremolata.

Typically, I serve this dish with polenta or crusty Italian bread. However, given our guest’s restrictive diet, I opted for mashed potatoes, using organic chicken broth and extra-virgin olive oil for moisture.

Wine Pairing: Dolcetto, Sauvignon Blanc

Veal Stew with Mushrooms

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It was raining yesterday while I was searching for a recipe for dinner. Somehow the weather made me want a stew but one that wasn’t too heavy for spring. It wasn’t long before I settled on having veal and found a wonderful recipe for a veal stew with mushrooms in Hazan Family Favorites by Giuliano Hazan.

It’s amazing how just a few ingredients, veal, onion, mushrooms, sage, with a little butter, olive oil, wine, and cream, can come together to create such a delicious dish. Like his mother, Marcella, Giuliano uses techniques that are simple and straightforward.

However, this type of minimalist cooking requires using the best ingredients: milk-fed veal, fresh sage, young mushrooms, and drink-worthy wine.

This recipe makes for a stew with extremely tender meat and concentrated flavors. It yields enough for 4 servings.

Veal Stew with Mushrooms adapted from Hazan Family Favorites by Giuliano Hazan.

1.5 lbs of boneless veal trimmed and cut into 1.5 inch cubes
1 small yellow onion, chopped fine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt
Fresh ground black pepper
2-3 teaspoons fresh chopped sage
1/4 cup dry Pinot Grigio or other dry white wine
3/4 pound large white mushrooms, cleaned and quartered 1/2 inch thick
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

1. Heat butter and olive oil over medium hight heat in a large dutch over, preferably enameled cast iron.

2. When the butter finishes sizzling, brown the veal on all sides, working in batches so that the meat will brown and not steam. Remove each batch to a platter and season with salt and pepper.

3. Add the onion to the pot and sauté stirring until it is soft for around 3 minutes, scraping up any of the browned bits from the veal on the bottom of the pot. The onion will take on a brown color from the pot.

4. Add the wine to the pot and let the alcohol evaporate for about 30 seconds.

5. Return the browned veal to the pan, along with any of the juices that have accumulated on the platter.

6. Reduce the heat to low and let the meat cook at a steady simmer with the lid of the pot slightly ajar for 1 hour. Stir every 15 minutes, adding a small amount of water if all the liquid in the pot evaporates. This can be tricky, The amount of liquid is minimal and much less than there is in a typical braise. Being quick with the stirring will reduce the evaporation.

7. After the hour’s cooking, add the mushrooms, season with a little more salt and pepper, and stir. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, at the same temperature and with the lid ajar for at least 30 minutes or until the veal is very tender.

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Stew just before adding the cream

8. Uncover and raise the heat to medium-high and let most of the liquid in the pot evaporate. Then add the cream and cook until the cream thickly coats a wooden spoon.

9. Sprinkle with parsley and serve hot on warmed plates with steamed white rice.

Wine Pairing: Soave, Pinot Grigio, Chablis