Updating Coq au Vin

I’ve always braised chicken in a covered pan, and the result has always been the same: flabby skin that needs crisping and a watery sauce that needs reducing. Recently, I discovered a simple fix: braising with the lid off. I also experimented with various ingredients and wines to come up with four fantastic braises.

Three Recipe Variations

Herby Chicken with Prunes and Carrots

Côtes-du-Rhône adds spicy fruit flavors to the liquid. Add 4 sliced carrots with the garlic; replace the Sauvignon Blanc with a Côtes-du-Rhône red; add 1 rosemary sprig with the thyme; replace the capers and zest with 4 ounces prunes.
Braising Pan Emile Henry 3-quart Braiser ($125; williams-sonoma.com).

Chicken with Fig-and-Cipollini Sauce

Off-dry Riesling makes the braise a touch sweeter. Replace the garlic with 8 ounces cipollini onions, the Sauvignon Blanc with an off-dry Riesling, and the capers and zest with 1 teaspoon juniper berries and 4 ounces quartered dried figs.
Braising Pan Le Creuset 3 1/2;-quart cast-iron Covered Buffet Casserole ($170; chefscatalog.com).

Chicken with Artichokes and Mushrooms

Oaky Chardonnay gives the creamy dish extra richness. Replace the garlic with 1 chopped onion and 4 ounces quartered cremini mushrooms, the Sauvignon Blanc with an oaky Chardonnay, and the capers and zest with 6 ounces thawed frozen artichoke hearts; stir in 2 tablespoons heavy cream before reducing the braising liquid.
Braising Pan Calphalon Tri-Ply Copper 12-inch Everyday Pan ($80; cooking.com).

PUBLISHED April 2007

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