Brett happens

All wine, most of the time

What to eat with vin jaune?

leave a comment »

At the Mo’ Wine Group’s recent Jura tastings, the vin jaunes were served with old Comté and walnut bread, a classic pairing that brings out the best in the wines. A few attendees asked about other vin jaune-friendly dishes and I promised to post a couple of recipes, one for lobster and another for chicken. You’ll find them after the jump.

There are, of course, other options. White meats, poultry (especially from Bresse), escargots, sweetbreads, crayfish, lobster and langoustine, often in preparations involving cream, curry and/or saffron, are frequently recommended. More specifically, a French food and wine-pairing book suggests veal Orloff, duck à l’orange, chicken waterzoï and pork curry (by which is meant pork cubes in a cream sauce mildly flavoured with curry powder) and even tarte Tatin. While I’ve never tried serving vin jaune with dessert (the wine’s dryness would seem to rule out such pairings), I admit to having enjoyed it with the Masse amande aux noix et au curry, a cube of barely sweetened walnut- and curry-flavoured almond paste in a bitter chocolate shell, created by the exceptional Arbois-based chocolate maker Hirsinger specifically to go with the wine.

Note that for cooking purposes, Marcel Cabelier’s 2003 Château-Chalon ($44.25, 10884778), the least expensive vin jaune available at the monopoly, is perfectly adequate.


The preparation method comes from Alain Passard of Paris’s L’Arpège while a less pricey adaptation (using fino sherry and olive oil with a little honey to round it out) can be found in Patricia Wells’s At Home in Provence. This recipe draws on both and includes a few changes of my own. Despite the lengthy description, it’s really quite easy to make.

For 2 persons, start with 2 small lobsters, about 500 g (1 lb.) each. Bring a pot of water to boil, add salt and then the lobsters. (For the fanciest presentation, tie a long metal spoon to the underside of each lobster’s tail before boiling to prevent the tail from curling.)

Simmer for 4 minutes. Remove the lobsters from the water and let cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220ºC (425ºF).

Pour a generous 250 ml (1 cup) vin jaune into an ovenproof oval Dutch oven or turkey roaster. Place the lobsters (spoons still attached) into the pot. Cover and roast for 10 minutes. Transfer the lobsters to a cutting board. Strain the cooking juices into a small saucepan. Turn the oven down to 160ºC (325ºF).

Carve the lobsters and remove the sand sack, tomalley and coral, if any. (Freeze the tomalley and coral for another use.) For the simplest presentation, simply split the lobsters lengthwise. For the fanciest presentation, twist the large claws off, crack them and extract the meat, preferably in one piece, then carefully detach the tail from the torso, remove the spoon, cut the tail in half lengthwise and each half in half lengthwise again. Leave the tail meat attached to the shell.

About 5 minutes before serving, moisten the lobster meat with 1 or 2 spoonfuls of the cooking juices and reheat in the turned-off oven.

Add a scant 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger to the cooking juices. Bring to a simmer. Off the heat, mount the sauce by whisking in cold pieces of butter (2–3 tablespoons). Add salt if necessary. Whisk in hazelnut oil to taste (about 2 tablespoons) and, to soften the texture, 1 tablespoon of crème fraîche.

Plate the lobsters, spoon some of the sauce over and around them. Serve with sautéed chanterelles and any remaining the sauce on the side.

The combination of lobster and the nutty vin jaune sauce is magical. While you can drink the remainder of the vin jaune with the dish, it is perhaps a little too powerful for the delicate sauce. A better choice might be another Jura white, one of the fine, slightly oxidized Chardonnays or more subtle Savagnins.

Chicken with Vin Jaune and Morels

This recipe, adapted from Le meilleur et le plus simple de la France, is Joël Robuchon’s take on one of the most celebrated dishes of Franche-Comté, the region that encompasses the Jura. I’ve listed a few comments and adaptations after the recipe. Robuchon says the dish may be successfully prepared without the morels, in which case he suggests serving it with a basmati rice pilaf cooked in chicken broth. With or without mushrooms, the only recommended wine is, of course, vin jaune, although I’ve also enjoyed it with a Savagnin-based Côtes du Jura.

1 free-range chicken, about 1.8 kg (4 lbs), cut into 8 pieces
400 g (1 lb) fresh morels
2 shallots, peeled and minced
80 g (6 tablespoons) butter
2 tablespoons peanut oil
200 ml (generous 3/4 cup) vin jaune
400 ml (1 2/3 cups) crème fraîche (substitute heavy cream)
2 egg yolks
A few drops of lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh chervil sprigs
Freshly ground white pepper

1. Clean the morels: cut them in half, trim the stems. Use a small brush to clean away any dirt. Rinse quickly under running water. Dry well with a towel.

2. In a skillet, melt 40 g (3 tablespoons) butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and sweat them, stirring with a wooden spoon and adjusting the heat so they do not brown.

3. Add the morels, salt and pepper. Sauté for 3 minutes. Set aside.

4. Salt and pepper the chicken pieces. Put the remaining 40 g (3 tablespoons) butter and the peanut oil in a heavy Dutch oven and turn the heat to medium low. Add the chicken pieces and lightly brown them on all sides, taking about 20 minutes in all. Tilt the pan and remove as much fat as possible.

5. Add the vin jaune to the chicken and allow it to bubble for a few minutes. Add 300 ml (1 1/4 cups) crème fraîche, cover the dutch oven and simmer gently around 10 minutes.
Remove the breasts, which take less time than the legs to cook. Place them in a casserole, cover and keep warm.

6. Add the morels to the Dutch oven, cover and simmer gently another 15 or 20 minutes until the chicken is done.

7. With a slotted spoon, remove the chicken thighs and mushrooms to the casserole that contains the breasts, cover and keep warm.

8. In a bowl, beat the eggs with the remaining crème fraîche. Slowly add one cup of the cooking liquid, whisking all the time, then whisk this mixture into the remaining cooking liquid.

9. Correct the seasoning with salt, white pepper and a few drops of lemon juice.

10. Arrange the chicken and mushrooms on a serving platter. Season lightly with white pepper. Nap with the sauce. Decorate with chervil sprigs and serve.

Yield: 4 servings


A good friend who’s a native of the Jura gives Robuchon’s recipe two thumbs up while making several pertinent points.

  • The first is that Robuchon’s is a modern-day adaptation of the traditional dish, which, like coq au vin, uses a cock, not a hen, and thus requires much longer braising and considerably more wine, since the loss to evaporation is greater and since cocks are generally much larger than hens.
  • Fresh morels, especially good ones, being hard to find most of the year, friend often relies on dried morels, above all the Jura variety, which he values for their smokiness, a flavour that marries well with vin jaune. He rehydrates the mushrooms overnight in water to cover, strains the resultant liquor, rinses the mushrooms and returns them to their liquor. Both are then added to the dish right after the wine (dried morels need to cook longer than fresh).
  • The price of vin jaune makes the dish expensive. A couple of years ago, friend and I developed a cheaper and quite satisfactory mock version by cooking the chicken in a Savagnin-based Côtes du Jura and adding fino sherry to taste (1/4 to 1/2 cup) for the last 5 or 10 minutes of cooking.
  • Friend typically uses about twice as much wine as Robuchon and about half as much cream, and he doesn’t always thicken with egg yolks, often deciding to reduce the sauce instead.

Written by carswell

May 14, 2012 at 14:13

Posted in Recipes

Tagged with ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: