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Coq au Vin

December 15, 2010

Coq au Vin
Last night I made my first ever attempt at Coq au Vin.  I researched quite a few recipes, all of which most likely had their roots in Julia Childs’ now famous recipe with small onions and button mushrooms.  She most likely borrowed and adapted as well since this is your prototypical peasant dish from the French countryside.  When it was time for the old rooster or an aging hen to meet their maker one would braise them in a red wine sauce.  The tannins and acidity in the wine (Vin) would help tenderize the chicken and mask some of the strong pungent flavors that would come from a male rooster (Coq).

The basics of the recipe are this: chicken browned in rendered bacon fat, braised in a red wine plus stock liquid, served with a thickened sauce almost like a Beurre Rouge (flour, butter, red wine).  I added some carrots to the below recipe for some extra vegetables.  With a foundation of bacon and butter this has to taste good – who could go wrong.  I also recommend getting to your roots by using a whole chicken and cutting it up yourself.  Do this for a few reasons; first it is cheaper, second you should really learn how to do it, and last but not least you get to fry up the giblets in the bacon fat, with a little salt and pepper they are butcher’s reward to munch on while you are braising the rest of the bird.    There are some instructions on cutting up a chicken if you need them… here

One mistake I made in preparing mine was not making enough roux for the sauce base – my sauce was too runny.  You want a sauce thick enough that it coats the back of a spoon.  I guess this is the pitfall of never following a recipe exactly. 

  • 1 whole chicken cut into 8ths
  • 1/3 lb of bacon, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 2 cups of red wine
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 cup of water
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • ½  red onion chopped
  • 1 bag of frozen pearl onions
  • 4 oz package of button mushrooms, halved
  • 5 tablespoons of butter
  • 3 tablespoons of flour
  • Handful of fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper

In a large enamel coated Dutch oven over medium heat, render the bacon pieces.  Just before crisping remove bacon (set aside), leave the fat in the pan.  Salt and Pepper your chicken pieces and brown each side in the bacon fat. You may have to do it in shifts to avoid overcrowding.  Once you are finished browning the chicken, set aside to a plate and raise heat to medium high.  Saute your add your garlic, carrots, red onion until the onions sweat.  Pour in red wine and deglaze the bottom of your pot, scrape up the nice bits on the bottom.  Add your stock, water, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and add your reserved bacon and chicken pieces.  Cover with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes or so until your chicken is done.

For the Pearl Onions and Mushrooms:  While your chicken is braising start your pearl onions.  In a large sauce pan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of your butter, add the pearl onions and cook until slightly golden.  Toss in your mushrooms and stir around coating in the remaining butter – sauté for about a minute or two.  Now take 2 ladlefuls of the other pots braising liquid and pour over your onions and mushrooms.  Reduce heat to low and simmer until the mushrooms are nice and soft, about 7 minutes. 

For your sauce:  Your chicken should be done, remove it and as many of the carrots as you can and set aside in a warm oven.  Raise the heat on the braising liquid to a boil and reduce the liquid by about a half.  Meanwhile in a small sauce pan over medium low heat make your roux, melt your last 3 tablespoons of butter.  Stir in 3 tablespoons of flour.  Keep stirring until all of the flour gets toasted and turns golden.  Reduce your braising liquid to a simmer and whisk in your roux until it is incorporated and begins to thicken the red wine liquid.

To serve portion chicken, bacon and vegetable mixture on each plate with a ladle of the thickend sauce over the dish.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Serve it up with a warm baguette for soaking up the sauce and good bits.  Lastly if you have kids serve it over a bed of wide egg noodles – they’ll never know they were actually eating haughty French food.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. December 16, 2010 2:04 am

    The picture above just makes me hungry everytime I look at it lol. Great recipe

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