Classy Candy DETOX

How many of y’all have finished all of your Halloween candy? Not me. My children are not allowed home until they have a minimum of one full pillow case each, and it’s not because THEY like candy that much. Once the goods are delivered, I’m like the TSA: Exam the baggage then confiscate. Ah, power is intoxicating, or is that the high fructose corn syrup?

Eventually, however, even I need to detox from processed sugars and low-end chocolates. And what better way than with a braise from Alsace-Loraine? The region of France that has traded hands like the SEC football trophy; whoever is the strongest power at the time (either France or Germany) wins. As of late France has been like the Crimson Tide.

This region’s cuisine is an all-star mash-up of the best German and French food. The style is rich and luxurious and can be sophisticated or very homey. Braises play a big role.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about using the different parts of chicken to take advantage of textures and moisture. Can you guess which parts we’re using this week? Here’s a hint: They contain myoglobin, and we used the breasts already. Correct, Sherlock, the dark meat of the legs and thighs. These are awesome to braise because their moisture and texture hold up to the long, slow and moist cooking of this technique.

A proper braise requires a modicum of culinary skill and knowledge, so if you have a bit of patience, a bit of passion, and a strong desire to eat fabulously, you can create a terrific meal.

A few rules to remember: High heat when searing is the devil – avoid it. When browning the meat, medium-to-medium high is the optimum temperature range. If you burn the pan, even in the slightest, the fond will be ruined. Don’t be a shoemaker!

Properly reducing the wine and broth are paramount for building complex flavor. The final reduction of the sauce once the chicken is cooked will allow you to adjust seasonings, add garniture, and attain a perfect nappe (consistency).

Try this Coq au Riesling recipe, it’s quite simple, and will make you forget all about that candy.

Chef Bill’s Coq au Riesling


  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp. butter 
  • 1/4 cup thick cut bacon, lardons
  • 1 tbs. shallot, brunoise 
  • 2 chicken thighs
  • 2 chicken legs
  • 2 chicken wings
  • 8 oz. button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1/2 bag pearl onions, blanched and peeled
  • 1 tsp. caraway seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. tarragon, chopped
  • 2 tsp. parsley, chopped 
  • 1 1/2 cup semi-dry Riesling
  • 2 oz. chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Season the chicken parts with salt and pepper.
  2. Sear the chicken in the oil and butter over medium heat. Remove and keep warm.
  3. Add bacon, brown and remove. Add shallots and caraway seeds and parsley. Sweat. Add mushrooms, sauté briefly. Deglaze with the wine and reduce au sec. Add the chicken broth and reduce by half.
  4. Return chicken to the pan with the pearl onions. Bring to a simmer, cover and place in a 350°F oven for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove chicken from pan, keep warm. Add heavy cream, and reduce to sauce consistency. Adjust seasoning and add tarragon. Return chicken and coat with sauce. Garnish with the bacon.

Until we cook again,

Contact Chef Bill Thompson, owner of Amelia Island Culinary Academy in Historic Fernandina Beach, at [email protected] with your recipes or questions, to find inspiration and get you Cheffed Up!