Coq au Vin is a classic French dish of which Burgundy, Alsace, Champagne and Auvergne all claim paternity, it is also an absolute favorite of mine on a cold winter night.
Where Did Coq au Vin Come From?
According to various legends, Coq au Vin can be traced back to Julius Caesar and conquest of Gaul. It is said that during the conquest, the chief of the Arverni tribe, taunted the Romans who besieged him, by sending Caesar a rooster, which was a symbol of the valor of the Gauls. In response, Caesar ordered his chefs to find a recipe that would assert the authority of the emperor. Since wine was a sign of wealth and status, to assert his dominance, Caesar returned the “favor” by inviting the chief to dinner where he was served his rooster cooked in wine sauce.
Traditionally, Coq au Vin calls for a rooster (a chicken in modern times), to be cut into pieces and stewed with simple ingredients, but the technique and time to pull this dish together takes some effort. Some people question if this classic dish is simply chicken stew, but he answer there is no, not even close. Stew, chicken or beef for that matter, is a less complex American invention, and Coq au Vin is a much more delicate, rich braised meat dish by comparison.
To clarify, Coq au Vin may be elegant in name and in presentation, but it’s actually a great prep-ahead dish that works for small or larger gatherings any day of the week. Flavors intensify with time so making this dish in advance, like a great beef bourguignon, can help and not hinder the amazing rich flavors you’re going for. So this winter, go classic with this lovely, flavorful Coq au Vin recipe sure to please even your mother-in-law.
Coq au Vin
- 3 pounds chicken legs and thighs
- 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3 cups hearty red wine
- 2 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, stems removed and chopped
- 4 ounces bacon, diced into 1/4-inch pieces
- 2 large carrot, peeled and diced
- 8 ounces white button mushrooms, quartered
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons brandy
- 1 1/2 cups good quality chicken stock
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cups frozen pearl onions, thawed
- Pinch sugar
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- Step 1 Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a large mixing bowl, add the chicken, wine, bay leaf and thyme. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Step 2 Place a large Dutch oven medium heat and cook the bacon until golden and crisp, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate, leaving rendered fat in pot.
- Step 3 Remove chicken from wine, reserving the marinade. Pat chicken pieces with paper towels until very dry. Heat the bacon fat over medium heat, when hot, but not smoking, and working in batches add the chicken in a single layer and cook until well browned, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken.
- Step 4 Add the carrots, half the mushrooms and cook until the vegetables are lightly browned, about 8 minutes, stirring up any brown bits from the pot as they cook.
- Step 5 Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Add the flour and cook for another minute. Carefully add the brandy and cook for 1 minute. Add the reserved marinade, and chicken stock and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce the liquid halfway (2 cups), about 15 minutes. Skim off any foam that forms on the surface as it reduces.
- Step 6 Add the chicken, and half of the cooked bacon. Cover and simmer over low heat for 1 1/2 hours, turning chicken halfway through.
- Step 7 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Uncover the pot, place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
- Step 8 While the chicken is in the oven, place a large skillet over medium eat. Add 3 tablespoon butter and 3 tablespoons oil. When hot, add the pearl onions, a pinch of sugar and a pinch of salt. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes, shaking skillet often to move onions around. Uncover and add the remaining mushrooms, and raise heat to medium-high. Continue to cook until browned, stirring mushrooms occasionally, for about 5 minutes.
- Step 9 Remove the chicken from he oven and add the pearl onions, mushrooms and remaining half of the cooked bacon to the pot. Baste with wine sauce, sprinkle with parsley and serve.
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