Coq au Vin

Coq au Vin - Rustic cooking at its best.

Coq au Vin - Rustic cooking at its best.

Mike Harper

Coq au Vin (pronounced: coke – oh – van) is classic French cooking but simply means, chicken with wine. Though it has peasant roots, the final dish develops into something that will have you eating as well as any rich man. Coq au Vin is about taking simple, basic ingredients and combining them in a way that builds flavor. Because of that, there are many separate steps – but they all lead to an incredibly rich sauce that is the central aspect of the dish.

Coq au Vin

Serves 4

4 Large Chicken leg/thigh pieces
1 large yellow onion, cut into medium dice
1 large carrot, cut into medium dice
2 celery stalks, cut into medium dice
1 head of garlic, halved horizontally
1 bottle red wine (A Red Burgundy or Pinot Noir)
1 bouquet garni*
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups veal stock**
1 pint pearl onions, peeled
½ pound smoked slab bacon, diced***
1 pound small white mushrooms
3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

The day before:
In a large bowl, combine the legs, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, wine, and bouquet garni.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours.

The next day:
Strain the marinade liquid from the legs and vegetables and reserve. Remove and discard the garlic halves and bouquet garni. Separate the legs from the vegetables.
Season the marinated legs with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Just when the oil begins to smoke, add the legs. (Do this in batches so as not to crowd the pan. If the legs are too crowded, the steam they will emit will not rise away from the meat and the chicken will not brown properly.)
Brown evenly and deeply on all sides, about 7-8 minutes per side. Set finished legs to the side and discard the oil; replenishing the oil between batches. When completely finished browning the legs, reduce heat to medium and add the reserved vegetables to the pot. Cook until they soften and begin the brown, about 5-8 minutes.

Stir in the tomato paste and cook for about 2 minutes, and then add the flour, stirring again for about 2 minutes. Add the reserved marinade liquid and, as it bubbles up, use a wooden spoon to scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pot, incorporating them into the broth. (These browned bits are rich with flavor.) Cook for about 20 to 25 minutes, reducing the liquid by half .  After reducing, add the chicken and then the stock. Turn the heat back up to high in order to bring the liquid to a boil. As it reaches a boil, reduce the flame to low and maintain a slow and gentle simmer for 1 hour.  –  By this time, the meat will be very tender.

In the meantime, prepare the rest of the ingredients:
Blanche the pearl onions in boiling water for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender. Strain and set aside. Cook the bacon in a dry sauté pan over medium heat until brown, about 10 minutes, and remove with a slotted spoon. Add the mushrooms to the sauté pan and the (now very hot) rendered bacon fat. Cook the mushrooms until brown, about five minutes, and remove with a slotted spoon. Add the blanched pearl onions to the pan, sautéing until they too are brown, about 5 minutes.

Remove the legs from the braising liquid and strain the contents of the pot, reserving the liquid and discarding the vegetables. Return the liquid to the stove and bring it to a strong simmer. Skim the surface of the sauce as it bubbles, removing any visible fat. When the sauce has reduced by half, return the legs to the pot along with the bacon, onions and mushrooms and simmer for an additional 15 minutes.

Using a warmed serving dish, plate the leg/thigh with onions and mushrooms and spoon sauce over the top. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve.

This would go well with brown rice or oven-roasted potatoes, sautéed string beans and, of course, a pinot noir.

* Bouquet Garni: 3 stalks parsley, 1 sprig thyme and 1 bay leaf – lay the herbs on top of one another and tie them together into a little bundle with a piece of string. This is but one make-up for a Bouquet Garni and there are many. The idea is to infuse your dish with the flavors and aromas of these herbs and then make their removal very easy (just fish out the bundle at the end).

** If making Veal stock isn’t practical, you can substitute canned beef broth [I happen to like Swanson]. The Coq au Vin will not be as rich as if you had used veal stock but will still be very good.

*** If you can’t find slab (unsliced) bacon, then opt for thick-cut sliced bacon.
domaine tortochot

Wine Recommendation:
Well, there’s really only one way to go.  You need pinot noir, the same type of wine in which you marinated the chicken – though it’s no crime to upgrade for the dining room from what you used in the kitchen.  Red Burgundy is pinot noir and we have some beautiful ones, Chambertins from Burgundy’s Cote d’Or that are uniformly, rich, well-balanced and silky in texture.  Their only drawback is that they’re a tad on the expensive side,  ranging from $60. – $100./btl.
If that’s a bit dear, going for a Willamette Valley pinot noir (from Oregon) is an excellent fall-back.

Published in: on May 13, 2009 at 2:44 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. thank you

  2. I made a great variation on coq au vin–”rigatoni with braised chicken and saffron cream.” It was unbelievably delicious!

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