French Country Chicken with Comté (Poulet au Comté)
Typically, the region’s famous vin jaune (yellow wine) is used to make the sauce for this chicken. But because this wine of the Jura can be difficult to find in the United States, a full-bodied chardonnay can be substituted.
- 1 large chicken, about 4 pounds, cut into six portions (reserve the back for broth)
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons olive or other vegetable oil
- 1½ cups full-bodied chardonnay or other white wine
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1½ cups coarsely shredded Comté cheese
- Grating of whole nutmeg
- Grinding of black pepper
- Sprinkle the chicken lightly with the salt and pepper. If the breast is large, cut it in half crosswise. Use the ½ cup flour to coat the pieces of chicken; shake off the excess flour and set the chicken aside.
- Heat the butter and the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until the butter is melted. When hot enough to sizzle, gradually add the chicken pieces without crowding. Sauté, turning, until well browned on all sides, adjusting the heat to maintain a steady sizzle. As the chicken browns, transfer it to a side dish. Discard the fat and wipe out the skillet with paper towels.
- Add the wine and chicken stock to the skillet and heat to boiling. Lower the chicken pieces, once at a time, into the boiling liquid; reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cover and braise the chicken 20 minutes, turning once halfway through the cooking time. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 450°F.
- Use tongs to lift the chicken from the stock and arrange in a single layer in a shallow baking dish. Combine 1 cup of the shredded Comté and the remaining 1 tablespoon flour in a bowl and toss to blend. Heat the broth and wine mixture left in the skillet over low heat to a gentle simmer. Gradually whisk the cheese mixture into the simmering broth, whisking continuously until the sauce is smooth and thickened. Add the nutmeg and a grinding of black pepper. Taste the sauce and correct seasoning, if necessary.
- Spoon the sauce evenly over the chicken in the baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup Comté on top of the chicken. Bake until the cheese is melted and browned, about 20 minutes. Serve at once.
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