Coq au Riesling | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

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Coq au Riesling

Coq au Riesling

Coq au Riesling (Ronnie Fein)

4 servings

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On the first night of Passover our family follows customs that began with my grandparents over a hundred years ago. It’s comforting to light candles using my great-grandma’s candlesticks, dress the table with my mother’s special tablecloth and more or less eat the same foods we’ve eaten for as long as I can remember. And yet, we have made a few changes here and there: a more up-to-date Haggadah, a different charoset every year and an additional entrée for the vegetarians at the feast.

But the biggest change is the wine we serve.  

Although we still offer Manischewitz concord grape for the folks who appreciate the history and tradition, there are so many fabulous kosher-for-Passover wine choices available now, we don’t want to pass up the opportunity to drink a fine wine that actually works with the meal, that makes the food tastier and more pleasurable, that goes beyond drinking-as-ritual. In addition, we enjoy a number of entrees that use wine – braised short ribs, veal breast stew, for example -- and concord grape wine just doesn’t work because it’s too sweet and overpowers the other ingredients. The availability of a good wine for cooking has opened up a world of recipes to make for the Seder and during Passover week.

One of our favorite wines is Riesling, which can be sweet and distract from savory ingredients. On the other hand, there are also moderately sweet and dry ones and they are perfect for foods that are rich or flavorful, seasoned well and interesting. Duck? Certainly. Turkey. Salmon. Tuna. Most Asian-seasoned food. Wild mushrooms. And, most everyone’s go-to: chicken.

I’ve made Coq au Riesling – braised chicken -- several times with different Riesling choices, both crisply dry and modestly sweet. We loved them both. Rich shiitake mushrooms balance the acidic Riesling flavors perfectly.

Although it may seem like “just chicken,” this is a fancy-named, beautiful dish that’s festive enough for any Seder table or for dinner during the holiday week. It’s also a complete meal-in-one entrée, which makes things easier during the hectic holiday, although I have served this with sautéed spinach, because we like extra vegetables. If you eat quinoa or rice during Passover, either would also make a good accompaniment.

I make this dish using a whole, cut up chicken, but it’s also fine if you use (4) whole legs or (4) half-breasts (cooking time may be a few minutes more). There’s a bonus to this entrée too: you can prepare Coq au Riesling ahead and rewarm for serving.

Try pairing this recipe with a glass of Riesling

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1 chicken, about 4 pounds, cut into 8 pieces

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 large shallots, chopped

4 carrots, cut into large chunks

1 cup dry or mildly sweet Riesling

1/2 cup chicken stock

2 cups coarsely cut fresh shiitake mushrooms

4 sprigs fresh thyme

2 tablespoons lemon juice


Rinse and dry the chicken, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Cook a few pieces of the chicken for 5-6 minutes, turning once, until the skin is lightly browned. Do not crowd the pan – work with a few pieces at a time, repeating the process until all the pieces have been browned. Remove the chicken pieces to a dish and set aside. Add the remaining tablespoon olive oil to the pan. Add the shallots and carrots, stirring occasionally, and cook 2-3 minutes, then add the mushrooms and cook another 2 minutes. Return the chicken pieces to the pan and place the vegetables on top of the meat. Pour in the wine and stock. Place the thyme leaves on top. Cover the pan and cook over low heat for about 45 minutes or until the chicken is tender and cooked through. Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. Remove the chicken pieces and place them on a serving platter. Strain the remaining contents of the pan. Discard the thyme sprigs. Place the vegetables on top and around the chicken and place the platter in the warm oven to keep warm. Return the strained liquid to the pan and cook over high heat until lightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice, pour over the chicken and serve.

Ronnie Fein is a cookbook author, food writer and cooking teacher in Stamford. She is the author of The Modern Kosher Kitchen and Hip Kosher. Visit her food blog, Kitchen Vignettes, at, friend on Facebook at RonnieVailFein, Twitter at @RonnieVFein, Instagram at RonnieVFein.