Chicken in Riesling
Adapted from Gourmet

The original recipe omits celery and garlic. Now, I get the celery part, but garlic??? Mon dieu! As if I would dare braise a chicken (or cook it any other way) without it. Garlic here is magical, people. Like Harry Potter magical. Leave it whole to braise and melt away – it’ll be the most amazing depth of flavor for the dish.

1 whole chicken (about 3 1/2 pound), backbone discarded and chicken cut French style into 8 pieces (I used drumsticks and thighs because I think that the dark meat is just so much better here)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
4 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), finely chopped (2 cups)
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
4 medium carrots, halved diagonally
4 stalks celery, cut in 3-4 inch pieces
8-9 cloves garlic, whole
1 cup dry white wine (preferably Alsatian Riesling)
1 1/2 pound small (2-inch) fingerling potatoes
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup crème fraîche or heavy cream
Fresh lemon juice to taste


Position the oven rack in the middle and preheat oven to 350F.

Wash and pat chicken dry with paper towels. You want to make sure you get it as dry as possible as it will make a nice difference when you are browning the chicken. If you have time, place the chicken, uncovered, in the fridge for a few hours, where cold, dry air will dry it even more. Sprinkle the chicken with 1 teaspoon salt and a rounded 3/4 teaspoon pepper.
Heat oil with 1 tablespoon butter in a wide 3 1/2- to 5-quart heavy dutch oven, or an oven-proof pot over medium-high heat until foam subsides, then brown chicken in 2 batches, turning once, about 10 minutes total per batch. Transfer the browned chicken to a plate.

While the chicken is browning, wash leeks, pat them dry and chop them. A good way to wash the leeks thoroughly is to quarter them, lengthwise, and let them soak in very cold water, swooshing your hand around the bowl. The grit and dirt fall to the bottom. Do that several times and your leeks will be clean and ready for use.

Pour off fat from the pot and add the remaining butter, adding to it the leeks and shallot. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and cover, cooking over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until leeks are pale golden and wilted 5-7 minutes.

Add back the chicken, skin sides up, with any juices from plate. Then add carrots, celery, garlic and wine and boil until liquid is reduced by half, 3-4 minutes.

Cover pot and place it in the oven, braising chicken until cooked through, 20-25 minutes.

While chicken braises, wash the fingerlings, covering them with cold water with 1 1/2 tbsp salt in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer until potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes. Drain in a colander, then return to saucepan. Add parsley and a drizzle of good olive oil and shake to coat.

If your chicken is done, but the potatoes are not yet, just reduce the oven temperature to 200F and keep warm while the potatoes finish. Another reason I used dark meat in this dish is because it’s virtually impossible to overcook. That way, if your potatoes are taking their sweet time to cook, you’re not wringing your hands in anxiety, worrying that you will feed your guests chicken that tastes like pressed sawdust.

Stir in crème fraîche season with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Serve alongside fingerling potatoes.

© 2023 Olga Massov