Chicken in Red Wine Vinegar Sauce

By • April 26, 2011 • 54 Comments



Author Notes: I include this divine Lyonnaise dish in a class I have taught many times featuring four (and sometimes five!) chicken dishes from different parts of France. Many of my students are put off by the title of the recipe, but when the class is over, they almost unanimously declare this dish to be their favorite!

I’m going to be remembered for this dish, like it or not. They say the way to a man’s heart (and probably a woman’s, too) is through the stomach. Well, I have a couple of good friends who literally demand I make this dish. It is a goodie.
ChefJune

Food52 Review: Variants on this have become a nostalgia-inducing staple since my time in Lyon. Bocuse’s take uses purely butter, but ChefJune’s combination of fats leaves nothing to be desired -- one could be forgiven for nibbling chicken as the vinegar reduces. If your pan is full, as mine was, give the chicken closer to 15 minutes per side. I used Pompeian vinegar -- vinegar enthusiasts may want to back off on the cream, but however you prefer your sauce, the most important thing is to have a fine baguette on hand to sop it up!kdavey

Makes 6 generous servings

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 whole chicken (about 4 pounds) cut into 10 pieces -- you could use all breasts or all leg portions if you prefer. I use free-range chicken.
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 cup top quality red wine vinegar (I use Heinz)
  • 1 cup crème fraîche or heavy cream, preferably not ultrapasteurized
  • Finely chopped fresh (flat leaf) parsley, for garnish
  1. Mix salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Rub each piece of chicken with the mixture.
  2. Heat the oil and melt the butter in a deep-sided 12-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat. (If your pan isn't large enough to hold all the chicken in a single layer, use 2 smaller pans, and put half the chicken, oil, and butter in each one.) When the oil is hot but not smoking, use tongs to add the chicken, skin side down. Brown on both sides until the skin becomes beautifully golden brown and the chicken is thoroughly cooked, about 12 to 15 minutes on each side. If not fully cooked through, turn the heat down to finish cooking to keep the skin from burning.
  3. Remove the chicken to a serving platter and cover loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm. Pour off about half of the fat in the pan. Add the shallots to the remaining oil and brown over medium high heat. Slowly add the vinegar to the skillet and boil until reduced to almost a syrup. (The fumes will definitely clear your sinuses -- great for a cold!) Add the crème fraîche and cook until the mixture is well blended and has turned a nutty brown color, about 5 minutes. Return the chicken to the pan to coat thoroughly and heat briefly in the sauce.
  4. Return to the platter, garnish with parsley, and serve immediately. Season with salt to taste. If there is extra sauce, pass it in a small bowl.
  5. Teacher’s Tip: Be sure the vinegar has boiled down enough before you add the crème fraîche or you'll end up with a beige, watery sauce.

Tags: Easy, savory, serves a crowd

Comments (54) Questions (2)

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4 months ago juliawilde

Absolutely fantastic. I can't say I was as surprised as some of the folks here, as red wine vinegar and creme fraiche are the holy grails in my family, but this was a major hit. I found I needed to cook the chicken a little longer than described (I used a paella pan, so that might be part of it) and I'd love to see more guidance on how much salt and pepper to use for those of us who do not often make chicken (we're generally a fish-only house), but even with these little moments of hesitation, this recipe was just smashing. And we HIGHLY regretted not having bread to mop up the sauce - don't make the same mistake we did!! Thank you so much for an incredible meal.

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4 months ago SG

I'm a bit taken aback by the love for this dish. Followed the recipe exactly and the sauce was terrible--much too tart. I saved it with a lot of creme fraiche and the addition of brown sugar and a teensy bit of baking soda. It worked out in the end, but needed serious adjustment--will definitely not make this again.

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4 months ago BetsyTee

I made this about a month ago and it was superb! ChefJune is right about reducing the vinegar to a syrup - I reduced mine quite a bit to almost nil and there was still wonderful flavor when the creme fraiche was added. Also, love the picture! It and the title are what drew me to it.

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4 months ago Regine

Correction to prior comment. The " is" is missing in last sentence before "one thing." RESPECTFULLY submitted!

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4 months ago Regine

Yes Mary, you should hide ( no picture, no recipe saved, no recipe submitted) behind a different name, like "Rude." It one thing to offer constructive criticism and another thing to be nasty.

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4 months ago Juliebell

Good grief Mary! Your personal opinion comment has no constructive merit and the tone is a bit nasty.

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4 months ago Butterfield Beef & Berry Farm

Mary, so funny, I think this dish looks absolutely delicious! So GOOD, more for me!!! I do love just how differing opinions can be and thank goodness as the world would otherwise be so dull. One thought for you might be to find another site that doesn't disgust you but just a thought! Good luck!

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4 months ago Mary

How do you manage to make all of your recipes look so disgusting?? One big sloppy mess after another---nothing attractive that you would want to eat!!!!

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5 months ago Grayce

Loved it.......... but gotta be careful with the salt. The sauce came up smooth, flavorful...... and salty........ getting the chicken fully cooked took more time than the recipe indicated. I'll make it again........ with less salt

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5 months ago Jeannie

Any ideas on a good wine pairing with this? I liked it so much I was dreaming about it the next few nights.

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6 months ago pattyrat

Oh my, this is so good! A little work and a little mess, but SO worth it. Delicious!

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7 months ago haapi

Made this with 4 thighs. I used just 1/2 of the crème fraîche and the result was excellent. Outstanding recipe, thanks.

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9 months ago Alleg

Can I substitute soymilk or other non-dairy product for the cream?

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9 months ago ErinC

I made this last night and was duly impressed! Great flavor, loved the tang of the reduced red wine vinegar...this is certainly a dish I'll be making again! Thanks ChefJune!

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about 1 year ago kmclark121

Could I sub buttermilk into this recipe instead of cream fraiche or heavy cream?

Junechamp

about 1 year ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I don't think that would work. It doesn't have the same consistency.

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about 1 year ago Warren

I must have done something wrong. It said to boil the vinegar but the shallots started to burn and it didn't quite get thick. Then when I added the creme fraiche it just sort of weird and burnt tasting. Maybe the vinegar should have been slowly simmered?

Stringio

about 1 year ago radovanovic.rade

Similarly here. Was not to burned taste but there was no taste of vinegar and shallots got burned.

Junechamp

about 1 year ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Warren, you didn't reduce the vinegar enough. It has to cook down to [just about] a syrup before you add the creme fraiche.

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about 1 year ago Regine

Tastysweet, I did the same thing too, putting the chicken in oven (in a big pyrex) at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes while I was preparing the sauce. The process of browning the chicken was messy for me too due to the oil somewhow flying all over in the air and on my oven - which I kept cleaning as I was going along. Love the recipe though. I may one day try to just bake the chicken pieces to avoid the mess, and then use my HI BROIL feature for a few minutes for the chicken to brown; and then take half the fat etc. and transfer to a pot to cook the shallots and add the vinegar and cream.

Junechamp

about 1 year ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I recommend a spatterproof lid. It saves your stovetop and your kitchen walls!

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about 1 year ago tastysweet

Made this last night with 3 large half breasts and 4 thighs. Because the breasts were so huge had to use. 2 pans. Other than it was a very messy cooking process, it was delicious. But after giving the chicken a very good browning on both sides( about 12 minutes) I put all the chicken pieces on a baking sheet and covered them with aluminum foil and finished it in the oven at 400° for 15 to 20 minutes. The sauce I cooked off in one of the pans I cooked the breasts in. Then just spooned it over the finished chicken. Left overs tomorrow!

Junechamp

about 1 year ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Did you cut those huge breasts in half? I try to make all the pieces more or less even in size for even cooking. Plus, only a teen age boy can really eat a whole one of those breasts (lol).

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about 1 year ago Regine

Really good but i used 4lbs combination of skinless thighs and legs and i think that next time i might double sauce recipe. I must have had maybe 8 thighs and 8 legs, and while sauce was enough to coat meat, i did not hae much left. Maybe the skin is heavy and if included in weight, i might have had way less meat surface to be coated, and hence more sauce. But regardless, it was delicious.

Krista_cat_image

about 1 year ago KristaFriday

Can't wait to make this; it sounds absolutely delicious! Just so I have a point of reference (even a very rough one), how much time does it generally take the vinegar to boil down to a syrup-like substance? This is more to help me understand the general timing before diving in. Thanks so much!

Junechamp

about 1 year ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Hi KristaFriday: it usually takes me 15-20 minutes, because I don't like to put the heat up too high. Don't want to risk burning...