Coq au vin

Coq au vin[ “rooster/cock with wine”] is a French dish of chicken braised with wine, lardons, mushrooms, and optionally garlic. A red Burgundy wine is typically used, though many regions of France make variants using local varietals, such as coq au vin jaune (Jura), coq au Riesling (Alsace), coq au pourpre or coq au violet (Beaujolais nouveau), coq au Champagne, etc.

200gr. lardons (or very thick-cut bacon), cut into 1/4- by 1 1/2-inch strips (optional)

2 or more tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2-2kilos chicken, cut into parts Côtes du Rhône, or Pinot Noir

100ml Cognac or Armagnac

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 bay leaf

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

20 small white onions, peeled

3 tablespoons flour

500ml. red wine, preferably Burgundy

 

2 cups brown homemade chicken stock, or beef stock

1 or 2 garlic cloves, mashed or minced

About 1 tablespoon store-bought or homemade tomato paste

600-700gr. pound fresh mushrooms, washed, and quartered

To make the Coq Au Vin on your stovetop, if you’re using lardons or bacon, sauté them in 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy-bottomed casserole until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Transfer the pork to a side dish, leaving the drippings in the pan. (Otherwise, coat the casserole with 1/8 inch of olive oil.) • 2. Heat the drippings or oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, before careful not to crowd the pan. (You may need to work in batches). Cook the chicken, turning frequently, until nicely browned on all sides. Carefully pour the Cognac or Armagnac into the pan, let it become bubbling hot, and then, if desired–and if you’re brave–ignite the sauce with a match. Let it flame for a minute, tilting the pan by its handle and swirling the sauce to burn off alcohol. To extinguish the flames, simply cover the pan with its lid. • 3. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Add the bay leaf and thyme to the pan and place the onions around the chicken. Cover and simmer gently, turning the chicken once, for about 10 minutes. • 4. Uncover the pan, sprinkle the flour over everything, and turn the chicken and onions so the flour is absorbed by the sauce. Cover and cook, turning once or twice, for 3 to 4 minutes more. • 5. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually stir and swirl in the wine and enough stock or bouillon to almost cover the chicken. Add the lardons or bacon, garlic, tomato paste, and mushrooms to the pan, cover, and gently simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. Test the chicken for doneness (there should be no trace of pink and the juices should run clear when the meat is pierced with a knife) and remove those pieces that are ready. Continue to cook the rest of the chicken a few minutes longer. If the onions are not quite tender, continue cooking them in the sauce, then return the chicken to the pan, add the mushrooms, and simmer 4 to 5 minutes. The sauce should be just thick enough to lightly coat the chicken and vegetables. If it is too thin, boil it down rapidly to concentrate; if it is too thick, thin it with spoonfuls of stock or bouillon. Taste the sauce carefully, and correct the seasoning accordingly. Serve immediately or let cool, cover, and refrigerate overnight. To reheat, skim any fat that has congealed on the surface of the stew and place the pan of coq au vin over medium-low heat. Understand that the complexity of this French classic relies in large part on the caramelization that comes from searing or sautéing various ingredients in a hot skillet prior to jumbling them all together to simmer. Making coq au vin still turns out a lovely and still worthwhile stew, albeit one with just slightly less depth of flavor. There are almost as many ways to adapt this recipe for the slow cooker as there are cooks and slow cookers. We opted for the following approach, which worked swell. If using the lardons (or bacon), follow step 1. of the instructions above. Place the lardons (or bacon) and their drippings in the slow cooker and add the remaining ingredients except for the oil and the flour and using only 1 cup stock (and not 2 cups as instructed above). Cook on medium heat for 5 1/2 to 6 hours, until the chicken is tender. Transfer the chicken to a platter or a serving dish. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stir in the flour, and cook until it forms a paste and just begins to turn brown at the edges. Stirring constantly, very slowly strain the liquid from the slow cooker into the saucepan and simmer until it has reduced to a consistency that’s thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Transfer the onions to the platter or dish with the chickens and discard the bay leaf. Pour the reduced sauce over the chicken and onions.

We served this classic dish with smashed vegetables