Blowing The Budget!

Not cost wise but if this blog is about balance then after this dish I am seriously overdrawn calorie wise!  Can I tip the balance back this week, yes!  Was it worth it? YES!!  After the cold week we’d had this was a well deserved bowl of warmth and comfort.

This is a dish I have seen promoted by Nigel Slater and Nigella Lawson.  Coq Au Reisling.  I am not a fan of its counterpart Coq au Vin, I’m just not a fan of “casseroled” chicken.  Coq au Vin was cooked for me by a well meaning (now ex) boyfriend, it was a particularly stressful period and he was trying to do something nice, out of politeness I had to eat it but from the first mouthful I knew this was going to be an endurance.  Casseroled chicken I usually find dry, I know it’s been cooked in liquid so how can it be dry but it is.  So trying out this recipe was a leap of faith, and probably why it has taken me so long to get round to it.

I love a get ahead dish and this is one that can be prepped in advance ready to be fired back up and on the table in 30 mins.

Coq Au RieslingIMG_0303

  • 50g Butter and a little light olive oil or groundnut oil
  • 85g Smoked pancetta
  • 1 Large onion, chopped
  • 2 Cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 Chicken thighs, bone and skin still in/on
  • 200g Chestnut mushrooms, quartered
  • 500ml Riesling or other dry white wine
  • 300ml Double Cream
  • A good handful of chopped parsley

Melt the butter in a casserole dish suitable for hob use over a medium heat.

Add the diced pancetta and let it colour slightly.  Add the onions and garlic, turn down the heat slightly if necessary to stop the onions and garlic browning.  Cook for a few minutes then scoop it all out and set aside, leaving as much fat in the pan.

Add a splash of oil and turn the heat up.  The oil will help stop the butter browning, as will using unsalted butter.  Add the chicken thighs to the pan and brown on all sides.  Remove from the pan and set aside with the pancetta and onions.

Add the mushrooms to the pan and toss to coat in the butter, they will soak it up pretty quickly.  Keep tossing around to brown slightly and then pour in the wine.  As it bubbles scrape off the bottom of the pan to release all the tasty bits and add back the onions and pancetta.

If cooking straight away add back the chicken, reduce the heat to a slow simmer, cover and cook for 25 mins.  The top of the browned chicken skin should be poking out of the top of the sauce which will help stop it going flabby.

If cooking later allow the liquid to cool before adding back the chicken.  When ready to cook bring to a simmer and cook as above.

Before serving, lift out the chicken again and pour in the cream.  Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper as required.  Let the sauce bubble away to thicken it up.  (This gave much more sauce than I thought needed for the two of us so I scooped some off, leaving behind the onions, pancetta etc. and have frozen it to use as a quick sauce another time.)  Stir in the parsley and add back the chicken to warm through and serve.

I served this with some crispy polenta wedges.  If the cream and butter in the chicken isn’t enough for you these wedges are loaded with cheese and butter!  But they are a worthwhile recipe to have in your repertoire.

Polenta Wedges – to serve 2IMG_0304

  • 50g Parmesan Cheese grated
  • 250ml Water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 50g Polenta
  • 40g Butter + extra for frying
  • Olive oil or groundnut oil for frying


Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan with the salt and bay leaf, add the polenta and keep stirring.  Let it cook slowly for 5 mins, stirring frequently.  Polenta can be viscious stuff and will spit at you!

Remove the bay leaf and stir in the butter and parmesan cheese.

I line a loaf tin with cling film, pour in the polenta and leave it to set.  Any suitable container will do, you want the polenta about 15mm deep.

It needs at least 30 mins to set.  Turn it out onto a board, trim the edges if you want a neat look.  Cut the block in half and then into triangles.

Add a nob of butter and some oil to a frying pan, once hot fry the wedges for about 5 mins on each side until they are golden and crisp.

The Nutritional Bit

Okay this recipe will never feature on the cover of any healthy eating magazine!  It is packed with dairy products though and these are a great source of essential vitamins and minerals, including carbohydrates, protein, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamins A, D, B12, riboflavin and niacin.