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Jun 4, 2019
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WINE WITH…Chicken a la Flamande

For many cooks “à la Flamande” signals that the dish is Flemish in origin, and that beer is involved, usually dark beer.  The best-known dish in this category is Carbonade Flamande, beef stew simmered in beer (check out our Wine With Carbonade Flamande feature from November 15, 2016).  Because this current recipe is based on chicken rather than beef, it is lighter than the classic Carbonade and therefore makes a perfect springtime or summer meal.  Like all stews, this tasty beer-braised chicken is even better if made a day or two ahead of time.  We usually use a brown Belgian abbey beer when we make this, but any nice, dark beer or ale will be good.   We love it served with mashed potatoes, but rice or noodles are also good accompaniments.

Chicken a la Flamande

Serves 4

1/4 pound bacon (preferably thick cut) cut into half inch pieces
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, about 2 and 1/2 pounds total
Salt and pepper
about 1/3 cup flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 cup minced onions
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 teaspoon each thyme and oregano
One 12 ounce bottle of dark beer or ale
1 cup chicken stock or water
Minced parsley for garnish (optional)

Blot the chicken thighs dry, trim off excess fat, then season them generously with salt and pepper.  Cook the bacon pieces in a large pot.  When they are just crispy, transfer them with a slotted spoon from the pot to a plate lined with a paper towel or two.
 
Place the chicken in a paper or plastic bag and sprinkle in the flour.  Give the bag several good shakes to distribute the flour over the chicken.  Add the olive oil to the chicken drippings in the pot and raise the heat to medium-high.  When the fat is hot, add the chicken thighs and cook them for about 5 minutes until they are golden brown, taking care not to burn them.   Flip them over and sear the other side.  Stir in the carrots, onions, and garlic; then pour in the beer and chicken stock (if the chicken thighs are not submerged, add more water or stock).  Simmer the mixture, covered, for about 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked clear through (165° F or 73° C).

*         *         *

The white wines we liked best with this dish tended to be fresh and soft on the palate.  Good reds likewise were inclined to be soft and reigned in rather than brash and tannic.  At the same time, regardless of color, the best wines were full of enticing flavor. 


Finca La Mata,

Ribera Del Duero

(Spain)

2016               

(Imported by   

Wines of Spain)               

 

 

$18

 

With enough strength to impress but not overpower the palate or the food, this Spanish red made for one of the top food and wine pairing matches of the evening.

 

Huston Vineyards,     

Washington State

(USA)

“Chicken Dinner White”

2017                               

 

 

 

 

 

$16

 

Given the name, how could we not try this white blend with this dish?  It combines Riesling, Muscat, and Roussanne, and is made by an Idaho winery from grapes imported from Washington State. We liked it very much because found that it offers vivacious fresh fruitiness without being overtly sweet.                                   

            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

La Crema,     

Sonoma Coast

(California)

Pinot Noir

2016               

 

 

 

 

 

 

    $26

   

 

                                                                                                 

This Pinot’s ripe cherry and cassis flavors wrap deliciously around the smoky bacon elements in the dish, and its generous finish helps prolong the pleasurable experience.

 

 

 

 

 

Nine Hats,

Columbia Valley

(Washington State)             

Riesling

2017    

 

 

 

 

 

 

$16

 

Nine Hat’s sweet/savory Riesling character mingles appetizingly on the palate with both the chicken and the natural sweetness of the carrots.  This was the favorite match for one of our tasters.  

            

 

 

 

 

St Supéry,     

Napa Valley   

(California)

Chardonnay

“Oak Free”

2018

 

 

$18

 

Delicate hints of sun-licked apricot and peach are just the thing to bring out the best in this chicken dish.  Having been fermented in stainless steel the wine finishes on a refreshingly bright, clean note.