Chicken in Red Wine Vinegar Sauce

By • April 26, 2011 • 59 Comments

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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.
Jump to Comments (59)

Tags: Easy, savory, serves a crowd

Comments (59) Questions (2)

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20 days ago Moenbailey

Made this tonight. Absolutely awesome, and so simple. I put about 2 tbsp salt and several grinds of pepper in a small dish, but probably only used about half of that. I salted the chicken about 3 hours before cooking. I used a smaller chicken, 2-1/2 lbs, for three of us, but I didn't change any of the proportions for the sauce. I tossed some chopped Kalamatas into the sauce with the cream just to use up what I had in the fridge. They were a nice addition. Didn't have a baguette on hand so served it with mashed potatoes as a sauce vehicle. It was perfect.

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23 days ago Chloe

Didn't have creme friache here in Korea so I substituted it with heavy cooking cream and my bf loved it! I reduced the vinegar and just used chicken breasts. He said it was the best so far and wanted me to make it again. He was wiping the sauce off the plate with bread so, yup, I'm definitely making this soon. Thank you for the great recipe! :D

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24 days ago Maddie Mayjack

My sauce came out just a little too heavy... The only reason I could think of is that I used heavy cream instead of creme fraiche? The chicken itself was great, the sauce was just toooo creamy. Probably my fault, but can any of you enlighten me about what I could have done wrong?

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about 1 month ago ECMotherwell

This dish is delicious — I loved it! However (and I only share this for those who have similar tastes) my husband really didn't like it, because the end result tasted distinctly like a (wonderful) creamy mustard sauce, and he is emphatically NOT a mustard fan. (It's frustrating; I can't use mustard as a thickener or flavor in sauces or dressings. He is so sensitive to the taste that he can instantly detect it.) Anyway, as soon as I tasted it, I knew he wouldn't like it — if I hadn't have made it myself, I would have thought it a delicious mustard-based sauce. Ah well....

Jd

about 1 month ago Jordan

This was absolutely delicious! I used four chicken thighs with the skin on and followed the directions exactly, making sure to reduce the vinegar down to practically nothing before folding in the cream fraiche. I cooked the chicken for about thirty minutes total, flipping it about four times throughout in order to ensure even cooking. The sauce was wonderful and flavorful - I even caught my husband, who had dish duty afterwards, practically licking the pan before putting it into the dishwasher. Thank you for a great recipe!

(Tip: Use a splatter guard when cooking the chicken in order to avoid a mess!)

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7 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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7 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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7 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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7 months ago Regine

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

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7 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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7 months ago Juliebell

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

Belted

7 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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7 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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8 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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8 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.

Stringio

9 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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9 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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12 months ago Alleg

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

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12 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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over 1 year ago kmclark121

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

Junechamp

over 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.