Adapted from a Cook’s Illustrated recipe
Last week I made a hunter’s chicken. Jan asked for the same again when her old school friends, the aunties, came for Stitches this weekend. I did not want to do the exact same thing, so I made something much closer to a recipe in Cook’s Illustrated this month.
One problem with any simmered chicken dish is the skin. It always turns out flabby and unappetizing. Many recipes have you sear the chicken pieces—to try and get some of the flavorful goodness of well browned chicken skin. This leaves you with a pile of hot, half-cooked chicken. However, you still end up having to peel the skin off of each piece of chicken and discard it.
In the latest Cook’s Illustrated, there was a recipe for Coq au Riesling that solved the flabby skin issue by removing the skin entirely and then browning it well separately. Cooking the browned skin in the simmering sauce gives you all the well developed flavors of the caramelized skin, but it is easy to fish out and discard when you are ready to serve.
Many braised chicken recipes call for a second meat. This frequently means bacon, however, one of my diners does not eat pork. As a substitution, I thought turkey jerky would fill the gap of a flavor and umami enhancing preserved meat.
One of my other diner’s hates tomatoes. I roasted and minced a red bell pepper, to give the sauce the added color usually provided by the tomatoes in the original recipe. The change to crimini mushrooms, another source of umami, was another way to replace the flavor loss of not using tomatoes.
Karl’s Coq au Riesling
1 4-5 pound chicken
1½ tsp. Kosher salt, separate uses
2 oz. turkey jerky
2 red bell pepper, separate uses
2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
8 ounces crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, sliced thickly
1 very large yellow onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large carrot, roll cut
3 cloves garlic, crushed
½ Tbs. dried thyme
½ tsp. dried tarragon
½ tsp. black pepper
1½ cups dry Riesling
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs. drained capers
1. Peel the skin from the chicken and sprinkle lightly with half a teaspoon of salt. Set it aside to dry.
2. Cut the chicken into bone-in portions.
Note: There are many ways to cut up a chicken. I remove the back bone and ribs and save them for stock. I cut off the wings, so that each has a good bit of breast meat. For large breasts, I cut the rest of the breasts into three piece each—I have a lot of diners who prefer white meat. If the thighs are large, I also cut them in half, when I separate the leg.
3. Cut the Turkey jerky into half inch slices.
4. Broil one of the red pepper until well blistered.
5. Put the pepper in a plastic bag and let it cool for ten minutes.
Tip: Steaming the pepper in the bag makes removing the charred skin much easier.
6. Mince the red pepper finely.
Tip: You may use a standing blender or an immersion blender to turn the red pepper into a paste.
7. Chop the second bell pepper coarsely.
8. Add two tablespoons of olive oil to a large Dutch oven and brown the chicken skin well over medium high heat, 5-8 minutes.
Tip: The chicken skin will render out a lot of grease into the pot. How much you used of this will depend upon your diet. If you desire you may remove it all and use olive oil for the sautéing.
9. Remove the skin to a plate and add the turkey jerky.
10. Sauté the jerky for one minute, until starting to crisp.
11. Remove the jerky to the plate.
12. Spoon out all but two tablespoons of the grease.
Tip: Reserve two tablespoons of the excess grease for later.
13. Sauté the mushrooms until well browned, about 6 minutes, and remove them to the plate.
14. Return the two tablespoons of chicken grease to the pot and sauté the onions, with the rest of the salt, until starting to pick up some color, about 6 minutes.
15. Add the celery to the onions and continue sautéing until the celery has turned soft, about five more minutes.
16. Pull the vegetables to the sides of the pot and add the garlic to the hole in the center.
17. Sauté the garlic until fragrant, about one more minute.
18. Add the bell pepper paste to the garlic and continue sautéing for 3-4 minutes, until the paste is darkened and most of the moisture is cooked away.
18. Add the herbs and pepper to the pot and mix in the vegetables.
20. Deglaze the bottom of the pot with the wine.
21. Return the chicken skin, turkey jerky, mushrooms, vinegar, and capers to the pot and stir to mix them in..
22. Nestle the chicken pieces into the sauce and vegetables.
Tip: You will be tempted to add some water, or more wine, to cover the chicken pieces. Do not do this. This chicken pieces will shrink and release enough liquid to do the job. Any additional liquid will only thin out the sauce.
23. Bring the pot to a boil and cover the pot.
24. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, undisturbed, for one hour.
25. Remove the pot from the heat and let it stand for 10 minutes to cool slightly.
26. Bring the pot covered to the table and lift the cover to fill the room with the stew’s fragrance.
Tip: As you are serving, discard any pieces of skin.