Today we are going to learn how to make an ancient French recipe. When I say 'ancient', I mean 'Julius Caesar ancient', though this recipe wasn't documented until the 20th century. This dish is basically a chicken braised with red wine, mushrooms, and vegetables.
Coq au vin is one of those recipes that looks more complicated than it is. I've made it a few times and I admit, it intimidated me the first time. It's a recipe that requires multiple ingredients and takes a couple of days to create. All that was a little overwhelming and I believe that's the reason my first attempt didn't turn out quite right. I've had a bit more practice since then, and maybe more confidence in the kitchen. That's made all the difference. After all, a recipe is merely a set of instructions.
If you follow the instructions, what can go wrong? Right? So, take a deep breath, turn on the radio, and let's do the thing.
A couple of large bowls
Large Dutch oven or big pot
Wooden or slotted spoon
Deep casserole dish or serving platter
3.5 lbs of chicken - trimmed - Either a whole chicken or in parts (ie thighs work well for this recipe)
1 Bottle and 1 cup of red wine
12 Pearl onions - peeled - If unable to find pearl onions, use shallots
Sugar - 1 pinch
1 Onion - diced to about 1 inch
1 Celery rib - cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 Carrot - cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 Bouquet garni * - explanation below
1/2 lb White button mushrooms - remove stems
4 Whole cloves of garlic
1/4 lb Bacon
1 Tbs black peppercorns
Salt and Pepper
1 Tbs Flour
6 Tbs Butter
2 Tbs Olive oil
* Bouquet Garni - Tie the following fresh ingredients in cheesecloth with string.
1 sprig of parsley
2 sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
Creating a bouquet garni and adding the ingredients to a large bowl
In a large bowl combine the bottle of red wine, diced onion (the large one, not the pearls), sliced carrot, sliced celery, cloves, peppercorns, and the bouquet garni. Add the chicken and make sure it is completely submerged. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator overnight.
"That's not so bad, right?"
Remove the chicken, pat it dry, and set aside on a plate. This part may be a little traumatizing if anyone is around you in the kitchen. Just a heads-up, the wine will alter the color of the chicken. It will be purple and this might cause those around you to question the outcome of this dish. Don't let that deter you, it will be ok, I promise.
Grab a strainer and strain the liquid into a bowl preserving the liquids and solids separately. Season the chicken all over (including inside if using a whole chicken) with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven heat the oil and 2 Tbs of butter until it is just about smoking. Add the chicken and sear on all sides until the skin is evenly brown turning with your tongs. Set the chicken aside on a plate. Leave the pot on the stove.
Reduce the pot to medium-high heat and add the reserved ingredients (except the bouquet garni); onion, celery, and carrot. Stir them occasionally until they are soft and golden brown. This will take roughly 10 minutes.
Sprinkle the vegetables with the flour and mix with your wooden spoon until they are coated all over. Stir in the reserved liquid that you strained. Add the chicken back into the pot along with the bouquet garni. Allow this to cook over low heat for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Moving right along
While the chicken is cooking, take your saucepan and turn it upside down on your parchment paper. Trace around it and cut the paper to size. Set the parchment paper circle aside for now.
Place that saucepan on the stove and cook the bacon over medium heat until brown.
Remove the bacon from the pan and allow it to drain on paper towels. Remove the grease from the pan leaving 1 Tbs in the pan. Add the mushrooms and sauté until golden brown, then set them aside. After the bacon cools, crumble them into bits.
In the saucepan, add the pearl onions (or shallots) with a pinch of sugar, a pinch of salt, and 2 Tbs of butter. Add only enough water to barely cover the onions and cover the pan with the parchment paper circle.
Bring them to a boil and reduce them to a simmer. Cook them until the water has evaporated. Now, remove the paper and cook them until they are golden brown then set them aside. I placed mine on the other side of the plate with the mushrooms.
In the hot pan, add the remaining cup of red wine. Use your spoon and scrape all the bits and pieces of fond from the bottom of the pan. That will add to the flavor. Season with salt and pepper, and reduce over medium-high heat until it is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon.
When the chicken is cooked through (the juice from the thigh runs clear when pricked) and tender, carefully remove it from the liquid (if a whole chicken, cut it into quarters) and arrange the chicken in a deep casserole dish or serving platter.
Strain the liquid again and add to the reduced red wine. Now, add the bacon, mushrooms, and pearl onions to your dish with the chicken. In the pan, season with salt and pepper and add the remaining 2 Tbs of butter. Cook until the butter melts and you have a nice sauce, pour your sauce over the chicken and it's ready to serve.
Check out the slideshow
This dish is best served over buttered egg noodles. Cook those according to instructions.
Now you are ready for a feast and impress your friends and family.
No kidding, this is so delicious and totally worth the effort. It seems complicated but it's really not. The best advice I can give is to study the recipe in advance so you have an idea of the steps and can better organize your prep. I used chicken thighs so I got about 8 servings from this recipe and all together (days 1 & 2) took roughly 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours to create.
I hope you enjoy this ancient traditional recipe. It may not be something you cook frequently but you certainly will love to revisit it from time to time. I absolutely love French cooking, it's by far my favorite.
Enjoy! Thanks for reading and have a blessed day.