THE PARIS DECEPTION: Bryn Turnbull’s Coq au Champagne (Champagne Chicken)

It’s somewhat difficult to provide a recipe for a book set in World War II Paris because, due to stringent rationing imposed by the Germans, the average Parisian didn’t get enough to eat. The countryside, however, was another matter, and it was considered a real stroke of luck when Parisians had country cousins they could visit – and perhaps dig a vegetable or two out of the family garden. It’s for that reason I decided to journey to Chateau Dolus, Fabienne’s family home, and although the chateau itself might be somewhat woebegone, its kitchens – and, of course, its wine cellar – are second to none.

In The Paris Deception, Fabienne happens upon her parents, Annette and Maurice, sharing a quiet moment in the kitchen, and to me those moments are the ones that make a meal: spending time with loved ones, and sharing those culinary duties – chopping and kneading, table-setting and doing the dishes. We remember the stand-out menus, of course, but it’s those moments with friends and family that truly make a dinner – any dinner – special.

Being a Champagne house, it felt only natural to have a recipe for chicken with Champagne on the menu. This recipe is all about indulgence: crispy chicken skin, creamy mushroom sauce, and that all-important je ne sais quoi that a splash of sparkling wine brings to the party.

You can serve this dish as is, but I like to have it over wilted greens: spinach tossed in a splash of lemon. Serve, naturellement, with sparkling or a dry white wine.

I hope you enjoy Fabienne’s family recipe for Coq au Champagne!


2-3 servings

Prep Time

10 mins

Cook Time

35 mins

THE PARIS DECEPTION: Bryn Turnbull’s Coq au Champagne (Champagne Chicken)

  • 4 chicken thighs, skin on and bone in
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 shallots, diced
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • ½ cup sparkling wine or Champagne
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons crème fraiche
  • Chopped tarragon and parsley, for garnish
  • 10 ounces baby spinach
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  1. Heat oven to 350 F. Season chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Place in a cold skillet, skin-side down. Turn heat to medium. Cook without moving chicken, letting the fat from the chicken render down in the pan until the skin is crisp and golden brown, about 10-12 minutes.
  2. Remove chicken from the heat, leaving behind the rendered fat in the skillet. Place chicken pieces on a rimmed baking tray, and bake for skin side up for another 10-12 minutes.
  3. While the chicken is cooking, toss the shallots in the chicken fat and cook for 2-3 minutes until translucent. Add mushrooms, and sauté until mushrooms are golden brown and caramelized on the edges. Deglaze the pan with Champagne or sparkling wine and cook for another minute before adding the chicken stock. Simmer, letting the sauce reduce by half. Stir in the crème fraiche and season to taste. While you’re reducing the sauce, remove chicken from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes.
  4. Rinse the spinach and add to a large pot with an inch of water at the bottom. Boil the spinach, covered, until wilted, 2-3 minutes. Drain, then return to the pot with the butter and a pinch of salt.
  5. Arrange wilted greens on a serving dish. Plate the chicken over greens, crispy skin side up, and top with the Champagne mushroom sauce. Scatter fresh herbs – tarragon and parsley, or whatever else takes your fancy —over the dish, and serve.