France - Coq au Vin
Is there really anything that can be said about 1. French cuisine? and 2. Coq au Vin that hasn’t been already said by the millions of people who have tried this? No, I don’t think so.
One of Julia Child’s most famous recipes. I’ve done Beouf Bourguignon twice before in my life, so I knew I didn’t want to do that for this blog. I promise I’m not turning my nose away from it. It’s freakin’ delicious. But the point of who noms the world is to try something new in every country in the world. Coq au Vin is that something new for ME.
Chicken braised in red wine. Traditionally, this dish is supposed to be made from rooster (so I’ve read), but over the years, chicken has become an acceptable replacement. The chicken was marinated in red wine, and then simmered in red wine and cognac. The end result was a beautifully elegant sauce with perfectly cooked chicken, mushrooms, and pearl onions. Delicious. I felt like a French chef by the end of this, no joke.
And guess what? You know how leftovers usually get dull the next day? THIS dish, actually gets better with age. So if you want to just eat one piece of chicken and save that second piece for tomorrow to have extra, it will be worth the wait.
1/2 cup bacon (chopped)
2-3 tbsp olive oil
3 lbs chicken thighs and drumsticks
1/4 cup Cognac (or Brandy)
Salt and pepper
1 bay leaf
Few sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary
20 pearl onions
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups red wine (Cotes du Rhone, Burgundy, or Pinot Noir)
2 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade)
4 garlic cloves (minced)
1 tbsp tomato paste
3/4 lbs fresh mushrooms (quartered)
In a large pot on medium-high heat, add bacon and about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Saute until the bacon is lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a plate, leaving the grease in the pot.
You may need to work in batches. Brown the chicken on all sides, turning when needed. Set the seared chicken on a plate to continue searing the rest. When the chicken is done, return all the chicken to the pot.
Carefully pour the Cognac into the pot and wait until it starts to bubble. I wasn’t brave enough to try this, plus my vent is too close to the stove, but if you’re wanting to impress people, carefully ignite the sauce with a match. I’ve only seen it done in restaurants, but it’s really cool to see. Just be careful not to burn your eyebrows. Let it flame for about a minute, and then swirl the sauce to burn off the alcohol. To extinguish the flames, simply cover the pot with the lid.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add the bay leaf, thyme, and rosemary to the pot and then nestle the onions around the chicken.
Cover the pot and let the chicken simmer, turning the pieces once, for about 10 minutes.
Uncover the pot, sprinkle the flour over everything, and turn the chicken and onions so the flour is absorbed by the sauce. Cover and cook, turning once or twice, for 3-4 minutes more.
Gradually stir and swirl in the wine and enough stock to almost cover the chicken. Add the bacon, garlic, and tomato paste to the pot, cover and gently simmer for 25-30 minutes. Test the chicken for doneness – there should be no traces of pink.
Add the mushrooms, and simmer for another 4-5 minutes. The sauce shouldn’t be too thin, but shouldn’t be thick either. But honestly, the consistency is up to you. If you want it to be thinner, add some more stock or water. If you want it to be a little thicker, mix about 1 tablespoon of flour with 2 tablespoons of liquid from the pot. Then mix in the flour mixture to the pot and stir well.
Feel free to serve with egg noodles or mashed potatoes, but I personally just ate it with the vegetables in the pot.
Again, the best part about this dish, is it tastes better the next day! To reheat, you can take a shortcut and microwave it, or you can heat it up over medium-low heat. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Julia Child.