Coq au Vin is probably the most famous of all French chicken dishes, and certainly one of the most delicious, with its rich red wine sauce, tender onion and mushroom garniture, and its browned pieces of chicken with their wonderful flavor. Coq Au Vin, rooster in red wine, is a Burgundian dish, and is considered a French comfort food. The traditional recipe for Coq au Vin did not include chicken, but rather a “Coq,” which is a rooster. Originally recipes called for old barnyard fowl, roosters, and old laying hens. The red wine in the recipe was used not to mask flavor, but to allow the acids to help break down the old meat of the rooster.
Julia Child made Coq au Vin famous in her cookbook, MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH COOKING. She frequently prepared it on her TV cooking show, The French Chef, and it was seen as one of her signature dishes. I debated between making Julia’s recipe and one by Ina Garten. I decided to go with Ina’s because I love her recipes and the photo in her book, BAREFOOT CONTESSA, BACK TO BASICS, really caught my eye. I have eaten Coq au Vin several times in the last month, once at The Captain’s Dinner on the cruise ship, and once in a lovely bistro in Paris and neither meal resembled Ina’s version of this classic recipe. They were delicious but looked like purple chicken with a few vegetables. Ina said she did a lot of experimentation with disappointing results until one of her TV show producers suggested that she adapt her beef bourguignon recipe to chicken…which is what she did…and the results are just what we expect…DELICIOUS!
The chicken I cooked, despite being simmered in red wine for several hours, didn’t take on that characteristic purple color. I browned it well before liquid was added to the pot and maybe that helped. Both Julia and Ina used whole chickens, but I bought whole leg pieces (leg and thigh), bone in, skin on, at Whole Foods. Both my French meals used this part of the chicken and I think dark meat stands up better to a robust red wine. Several of the recipes I read during my research suggested that the chicken be removed from the bone when served. I didn’t think the whole legs were as appetizing as they could be when they were cooked so I took this suggestion which I think made an easier to eat and a more appealing presentation.
The great thing about Coq au Vin is that it is so much better the day after it is cooked (just like beef bourguignon). I left the chicken intact until I was ready to reheat it just before serving, removed the skin and bones and let the pieces simmer with the vegetables and gravy until they were hot. I used 4 large leg/thigh pieces and cut the recipe in half for 4 servings.
Just before I left on my trip I received a beautiful set of wine glasses from WINE ENTHUSIAST, an amazing site that can fulfill all your wine related dreams from a custom wine cellar to an extensive selection of glassware and accessories. I received a set of red wine glasses from their Fusion Whirl Collection and look forward to serving our great Oregon pinot noirs in style. I live right in the middle of Oregon’s wine country and am enjoying learning about all our wonderful local wines. Many thanks, Wine Enthusiast!
- Good olive oil
- 8 ounces good bacon or pancetta, diced
- 2 (3-to 4- pounds) chicken, each cut into 8 serving pieces
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound carrots, cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
- 2 yellow onions, sliced
- 2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2 cloves)
- ¼ cup Cognac or good brandy
- 1 750-ml bottle good dry red wine such as Burgundy
- 2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 1 bunch fresh thyme springs, wrapped in cheesecloth and tied into a little bundle
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 pound frozen small whole onions
- 1 pound porcini or cremini mushrooms, stems removed and thickly sliced
- Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until slightly browned. Remove the bacon to a plate with a slotted spoon.
- Meanwhile, pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Liberally sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. After the bacon is removed, add a few of the chicken pieces in a single layer and brown for about 5 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Remove the chicken pieces to the plate with the bacon and continue to add the chicken in batches until all the chicken is browned. Set aside.
- Add the carrots, onions, 1 tablespoon salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper to the pot and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac, STAND BACK!, and carefully ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol. Put the bacon, chicken, and any juices that collect on the plate into the pot. Add the wine, chicken stock, and thyme springs and bring to a boil. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place in the oven for 45 minutes, until the chicken is just no longer pink. Remove from the oven and place on top of the stove.
- Mash 2 tablespoons of the butter and the flour together in a small bowl and stir the paste into the stew. Add the frozen onions. In a medium saute pan, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and cook the mushrooms over medium meat for 5-10 minutes, until browned. Add to the stew. Bring the stew to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes. Season to taste. Serve hot.
This post is linked to FOODIE FRIDAY at Rattlebridge Farm