Coq au Vin
Coq au Vin (literally "rooster in red wine") is probably the most famous of all French chicken dishes, and certainly one of the most delicious, with its rich red wine sauce, its tender onions and mushroom garniture, and its browned pieces of chicken with their wonderful flavor. Ideal for a party because you may prepare it completely a day or more before serving. In fact, Coq au Vin seems to be even better when done ahead so all its elements have time to steep together.
History: Coq Au Vin is a Burgundian dish, and is considered a French comfort food. The traditional recipe for Coq au Vin did not include chicken, but rather a "Coq," which is a rooster. A lot of recipes originally called for old barnyard fowl, roosters, capon (a de-sexed rooster), and old laying hens. Coq au Vin was originally considered peasant food, and the farmers would make do with what they had on hand. The red wine in the recipe was used not to mask flavor, but to allow the acids to help break down the old meat of the rooster True coq Au Vin was actually finished with the blood of the rooster stabilized with brandy and vinegar, this would help the blood not clot.
Coq Au Vin has been my favorite go to chicken recipe for many years. The rich red wine sauce makes this dish incredibly delicious!
4 ounces uncured lean thick-cut bacon
2 1/2 to 3 pounds cut-up frying chicken, skin on and thoroughly dried (I used skinless boneless breasts and thighs instead)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound carrots, cut diagonally in 1-inch pieces
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/4 cup cognac
2 cups red wine (Pinot Noir, Burgundy, Beaujolais or Chianti)**
1 cup organic chicken broth (I use Pacific Organic Chicken broth)
10 fresh thyme sprigs
2 tablespoons unsalted organic butter, at room temperature, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons organic all-purpose flour
1/2 pound small whole onions
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, stems removed and thickly sliced
2 tablespoons organic virgin olive oil
* The U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as food agencies in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, advises against washing poultry. Rinsing chicken will not remove or kill much bacteria, and the splashing of water around the sink can spread the bacteria found in raw chicken. Cooking poultry to 165 degrees Fahrenheit effectively destroys the most common culprits behind food-borne illness.
** Avoid bold, heavily-oaked red wine varietals like Cabernet.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove the bacon to a plate with a slotted spoon.
Meanwhile, lay the chicken out on paper towels and pat dry. Liberally sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. When the bacon is removed, brown the chicken pieces in batches in a single layer for about 5 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Add the cognac. Remove the chicken to the plate with the bacon and continue to brown until all the chicken is done. Set aside.
Add the carrots, onions, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper to the pan and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Put the bacon, chicken, and any juices that collected on the plate into the pot. Add the wine, chicken broth and thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just not pink. Remove from the oven and place on top of the stove.
Mash 1 tablespoon of butter and the flour together and stir into the stew. Add the onions. In a medium saute pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and cook the mushrooms over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until browned. Add to the stew. Bring the stew to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes. Season to taste. Serve hot.