Along with prime rib and making my own perfect creamy risotto, Coq au Vin has always been on my culinary New Year’s Resolution list. Thanks to a Sur la Table cooking class, we made a fabulous professional and beautiful version of this French classic.
I’ve looked at Julia Child’s recipe for Coq au Vin many times and always have found an excuse not to make it. The browned onions sound like a chore, cooking the mushrooms separately and getting them just right makes me nervous, but it’s really all about the “add cognac and flambe” issue. To me, flambe means an automatic visit from the fire department. At our Sur la Table class, there was no flambe-ing involved, thank goodness.
Coq au Vin (rooster in wine) is probably the most famous of all French chicken dishes. Rich with red wine sauce, tender with onions and mushrooms and browned pieces of chicken, what’s not to love. Just look at that lush rich sauce.
Coq au Vin is a Burgundian dish, French comfort food. The original recipe instructed one to use a rooster, rather than a hen. Considered peasant food, the red wine was used to break down the old meat of the rooster rather than for flavor. True Coq was finished with the blood of the rooster and stabilized with brandy and vinegar so the blood would not clot.
Our finished platter is much more of a production than my simple serving at home.
As with any braised meat dish, we found this to be wonderfully decadent and special.
The texture of this dish was so creamy, the flavor of the chicken exciting in a classic savory style. And the mashed potatoes were a perfect base for the meal bringing about a “melt in your mouth” experience.
- 8 ounces thick cut bacon cut in 1-inch chunks
- Vegetable oil as needed
- 1 pound roasting chicken cut into 8 serving pieces, 4-5
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 inch large yellow onion peeled and cut into 1- pieces
- 2 inch large carrots peeled and cut into 1 pieces
- 2 inch large celery ribs trimmed and cut into 1- pieces
- 1 inch medium leek white and light green parts only, cut into 1- pieces
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 head garlic halved
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1 bottle medium to full bodied dry red wine such as a Burgundy, Cotes du Rhone or Pinot Noir
- 2 - 3 cups chicken broth
- 4 leaves sprigs fresh thyme plus for garnish
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons cracked black peppercorns
- 1 pound pearl onions fresh or frozen
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 pound fresh crimini or button mushrooms stems trimmed, quartered
- 1/3 cup sherry vinegar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place a rack near the bottom.
- Place bacon in a large Dutch oven and heat over medium heat. Cook bacon until crispy and fat has rendered, about 6-8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or spider, transfer bacon to a paper towel lined plate, leaving the fat in the Dutch oven.
- Increase the heat to medium high and season the chicken pieces generously with salt and pepper. Using tongs, place chicken in the Dutch oen and sear to a deep brown on all sides, about 6 minutes, working in batches as needed. Transfer chicken to a rimmed baking sheet.
- Add onions, carrot, celery and leek to Dutch oven and cook, stirring occasionally until vegetables are browned, about 6-8 minutes. Add tomato paste and garlic and cook stirring often, until tomato paste turns a deep red, another 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle flour over vegetable mixture and cook, stirring to incorporate, about 1 - 2 minutes.
- Add wine to Dutch oven and using wooden spoon, scrape the bottom of the pan to release any browned bits. Cook until wine mixture begins to thicken, about 4-5 minutes. Return chicken to Dutch oven along with any juices from the baking sheet and add enough stock to harely cover the chicken. Add thyme, bay leaves and peppercorns, stirring to combine. Cover the Dutch oven and place in the preheated oven. Braise the chicken until fork tender, about 45 - 55 minutes.
- If using fresh pearl onions, blanch in rapidly boiling salted water until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Drain in a colander and let cool. Trim ends and the peel should slide off easily. Set aside. If using frozen onions, thaw and drain off excess liquid.
- In a large oven safe skillet over medium-high heat, Heat butter an doil. Add onions and mushrooms. Saute until lightly browned. Drizzle with sherry vinegar an season liberally with salt and pepper. Place pan in oven with the Dutch oven and roast, stirring occasionally until onions and mushrooms are golden brown and most of the liquid has eaporated, about 15-20 minutes. Remove pan from oven and set aside.
- Remove Dutch oven from teh oven and using tongs, carefully transfer the chicken to a rimmed baking sheet. Cover loosly with foil to keep warm.
- Strain the braising liquid through a fine mesh strainer to a large sauce pan, pressing solids with a wooden spoon to release as much liquid as possible. Place saucepan over high heat and cook braising liquid until reduced and thickened, about 10-12 minutes, skimming the surface with a heatproof ladle to remove any excess fat. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
- To serve: Plae one piece of chicken in 8 individual serving bowls and ladle sauce over each. Garnish with pearl onions and mushrooms an dsprinkel with reserved bacon pieces and thyme leaves. Serve immediately.