Coq Au Vin [Chicken in Red Wine with Onions, Mushrooms and Bacon]

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Julia Child is a legend. For good reason. She’s a great cook and she’s crazy; in the good way. I received Mastering the Art of French Cooking for Christmas when Julia and Julia came out, when everyone was on the Julia Child revitalization kick. After spending what I thought an obscene amount to time making pan fried chicken and buttery carrots, I put the cookbook back on the shelf and never head any inclination to open it back up.

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Until this dull, damp Saturday. Most normal people don’t spend their entire day cooking up a storm. I’m not like most normal people incase you haven’t noticed by now. With bland and normally uninspiring chicken thighs and an open agenda, I searched for something I’ve never made and something that may take the better part of my day. Instantly I retrieved my dusty Julia tome. Looking in the glossary under chicken, coq au vin caught my eye. Not really knowing exactly what it was (besides a synonym to a less than flattering english word) I figured I really had nothing to lose.

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It did take a long time, but rightly so with 2 extra components to cook on top of the chicken + sauce.  It was a resturant-worthy, rich, luxurious and buttery pot of flavour. Despite Julia’s semi-anal instructions, the recipe wasn’t difficult. With each stage broken down, it was refreshingly humbling to create such an presumably extravagant dish.

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One more tip: make this when you’re having company over. To have such a labour of love and to say it was a Julia Child recipe, you can’t not show off share.

Coq Au Vin [Chicken in Red Wine with Onions, Mushrooms and Bacon]
Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Serves 4 to 6 people

  • A 3- to 4-ounce chunk of bacon
  • A heavy, 10-inch, fireproof casserole
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds cut-up frying chicken
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup cognac
  • 3 cups young, full-bodied red wine such as Burgundy, Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone or Chianti
  • 1 to 2 cups brown chicken stock, brown stock or canned beef bouillon
  • 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 12 to 24 brown-braised onions (recipe follows)
  • 1/2 pound sautéed mushrooms (recipe follows)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • Sprigs of fresh parsley

1. Remove the rind of and cut the bacon into lardons (rectangles 1/4-inch across and 1 inch long). Simmer for 10 minutes in 2 quarts of water. Rinse in cold water. Dry. [Deb note: As noted, I’d totally skip this step next time.]
2. Sauté the bacon slowly in hot butter until it is very lightly browned. Remove to a side dish.
3. Dry the chicken thoroughly. Brown it in the hot fat in the casserole.
4. Season the chicken. Return the bacon to the casserole with the chicken. Cover and cook slowly for 10 minutes, turning the chicken once. I found a heinous amount of fat in the pan and drained it before continuing. Julia wouldn’t have done so, but Julia didn’t know about clogged arteries either.
5. Uncover, and pour in the cognac. Averting your face, ignite the cognac with a lighted match. Shake the casserole back and forth for several seconds until the flames subside.
6. Pour the wine into the casserole. Add just enough stock or bouillon to cover the chicken. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic and herbs. Bring to the simmer. Cover and simmer slowly for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and its juices run a clear yellow when the meat is pricked with a fork. Remove the chicken to a side dish.
7. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms (recipe follows).
8. Simmer the chicken cooking liquid in the casserole for a minute or two, skimming off the fat. (I got 1/4 cup!) Then raise the heat and boil rapidly, reducing the liquid to about 2 1/4 cups, about 15 minutes. Correct seasoning. Remove from heat and discard bay leaf.
9. Blend the butter and flour together into a smooth paste (buerre manie). Beat the paste into the hot liquid with a wire whip. Bring to the simmer, stirring, and simmer for a minute or two. The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.
10. Arrange the chicken in the casserole, place the mushrooms and onions around it and baste with the sauce. If this dish is not to be served immediately, film the top of the sauce with stock or dot with small pieces of butter. Set aside uncovered. It can now wait indefinitely.
11. Shortly before serving, bring to the simmer, basting the chicken with the sauce. Cover and simmer slowly for 4 to 5 minutes, until the chicken is hot enough.
12. Sever from the casserole, or arrange on a hot platter. Decorate with spring of parsley.

Oignons Glacés a Brun [Brown-braised Onions]
Mastering the Art of French Cooking

  • For 18 to 24 peeled white onions about 1 inch in diameter:
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons oil
  • A 9- to 10-inch enameled skillet
  • 1/2 cup of brown stock, canned beef bouillon, dry white wine, red wine or water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A medium herb bouquet: 3 parsley springs, 1/2 bay leaf, and 1/4 teaspoon thyme tied in cheesecloth (I used a loose leaf tea satchel)

When the butter and oil are bubbling the skillet, add the onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling the onions about so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect to brown them uniformly.

Pour in the liquid, season to taste, and add the herb bouquet. Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove the herb bouquet. Serve them as they are.

Champignons Sautés Au Buerre [Sautéed Mushrooms]
Mastering the Art of French Cooking

  • A 10-inch enameled skillet
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, washed, well dried, left whole if small, sliced or quartered if large
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons minced shallots or green onions (optional)
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Place the skillet over high heat with the butter and oil. As soon as you see the butter foam has begun to subside, indicating that it is hot enough, add the mushrooms. Toss and shake the pan for 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. During their sauté the mushrooms will at first absorb the fat. In 2 to 3 minutes the fat will reappear on their surface, and the mushrooms will begin to brown. As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from heat.
  3. Toss the shallots or green onions with the mushrooms. Sauté over moderate heat for 2 minutes.
  4. Sautéed mushrooms may be cooked in advance, set aside, then reheated when needed. Season to taste just before serving.
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One response to “Coq Au Vin [Chicken in Red Wine with Onions, Mushrooms and Bacon]

  1. Pingback: Baked Chicken Parmesan | the windowsill·

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