Coq Au Vin, April's Challenge

Coq au vin is a peasant recipe, As Anthony Bourdain has said "Coq au vin is an old, tough bird you have to drown in wine to get it to taste good. That'll be $28.95 please."

This is one of those recipes that is deceptively hard, with a little prep work it is easy as pie, maybe even easier. The secret is the mise en place. do it all ahead, stuff it in the fridge, and throw it all together when you are ready.

Excerpt from the Les Halles Cookbook, by Anthony Bourdain...

"Another easy dish that looks like it is hard. It is not in fact, this is the kind of dish you might enjoy spending a leisurely afternoon with. There are plenty of opportunities for breaks. It’s durable, delicious, and the perfect illustration of the principles of turning something big and tough and unlovely into something truly wonderful. Knock out your prep one thing at a time, slowly building your mise en place. Listen to some music while you do it. There’s an open bottle of wine left from the recipe, so have a glass now and again. Just clean up after yourself as you go, so your kitchen doesn't look like a disaster area when you start the actual cooking. You should. with any luck, reach a Zen-like state of pleasurable calm. And like the very best dishes coq a vin is one of those that goes on the stove looking, smelling and tasting pretty nasty, and yet later, through the mysterious alchemical processes of time and heat turns into something magical."

Coq au vin
from the Les Halles Cookbook, by Anthony Bourdain, Serves 4

1 bottle/1 liter plus 1 cup/225 ml of red wine
1 onion, cut into a 1-inch/2.5 cm dice
1 carrot, cut into ¼-inch/6-mm slices
1 celery rib, cut into ½ inch/1-cm slices
4 whole cloves
1 tbs/14 g whole black peppercorns
1 bouquet garni
1 whole chicken, about 3.5 lb/1.35 kg, “trimmed” – meaning guts, wing tips and neckbone removed

salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbs/28 ml olive oil
6 tbs/75 g butter, softened
1 tbs/14 g flour
¼ lb/112 g lardons
½ lb/ 225 g small, white button mushrooms, stems removed
12 pearl onions, peeled
pinch of sugar

3 large, deep bowls
plastic wrap
fine strainer
large Dutch oven or heavy –bottomed pot
wooden spoon
small sauté pan
small sauce pan
1 sheet parchment paper
deep serving platter

The day before you even begin to cook, combine the bottle of red wine, the diced onion (that’s the big onion, not the pearl onions), sliced carrots, celery, cloves, peppercorns, and bouquet garni in a large deep bowl. Add the chicken and submerge it in the liquid so that all of it is covered. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat it dry. Put it aside. Strain the marinade through the fine strainer, reserving the liquids and solids separately. Season the chicken with salt and pepper inside and out. In the large Dutch oven, heat the oil and 2tablesppoons/28 g of the butter until almost smoking, and then sear the chicken, turning it with the tongs to evenly brown it. Once browned, it should be removed from the pot and set it aside again. Add the reserved onions, celery, and carrot to the pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and golden brown. That should take about 10 minutes.

Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and mix well with the wooden spoon so that the vegetables are coated. Now stir in the reserved strained marinade. Put the chicken back in the pot, along with the bouquet garni. Cook this for about 1 hour and 15 minutes over low heat.

Have a drink. You’re almost there…

While your chicken stews slowly in the pot, cook the bacon lardons in the small sauté pan over medium heat until golden brown. Remove the bacon from the pan and drain it on paper towels, making sure to keep about 1 tablespoon/14 g of fat in the pan. Saute the mushroom tops in the bacon fat until golden brown. Set them aside.

Now, in the small saucepan, combine the pearl onions, the pinch of sugar, a pinch of salt, and 2 tablespoons/28 g of butter. Add just enough water to just cover the onions; then cover the pan with the parchment paper trimmed to the same size of the pan. (I suppose you can use foil if you must.) Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until the water has evaporated. Keep a close eye on it. Remove the paper cover and continue to cook until the onions are golden brown. Set the onions aside and add the remaining cup/225 ml of red wine along with salt and pepper and reduce over medium-high heat until thick enough to coat the back of the spoon.

Your work is pretty much done here. One more thing and then it’s wine and kudos…

When the chicken is cooked through – meaning tender, the juice from the thigh running clear when pricked – carefully remove from the liquid, cut into quarters, and arrange on the deep serving platter. Strain the cooking liquid (again) into the reduced red wine. Now just add the bacon, mushrooms, and pearl onions, adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, and swirl in the remaining 2 tablespoons/28 g of butter. Now pour that sauce over the chicken and dazzle your friends with your brilliance. Serve with buttered noodles and a Bourgone Rouge.

1. An old bird is best, hard to find though. Ideally you are looking for a stew chicken or an old rooster, I recommend a Kosher or Halal meat market (remember they have no pork though).
2. Bouquet garni is a bundle of herbs usually tied together with string, most recipes include parsley, thyme and bay leaf
3. Lardon may refer to different pork products cut from a pig's belly and used for larding in French cuisine. In this case you are looking for slab or country bacon, cut into small oblongs (lardons) about ¼ by 1 inch. I used salt pork, which did not smell like bacon cooking but tasted pretty good. Either way a good thick bacon with alot of nice fat and not alot of additives is what you are looking for.
4. the wine should be red, other than that pick what suits your pallet and wallet. But here is a helpful guide as well, Wine With...Coq au Vin


Natalia of Gatti Filie Farina said, "I made this great chicken for Easter and everybody loved it ! It became even better the next day !!"

Lauren of I'll Eat You Delish said "Just ate ours for dinner- quite tasty!"

Picture #1 Temperance of High on the Hog
Picture #2 Kat of A Good Appetite
Picture #3 Lori of Lori's Lipsmacking Goodness