August 18, 2012
On Wednesday, 15th of August, was Julia Child’s 100th birthday. Even though it’s a hot summer’s day, I thought I’d pay Julia an honour by cooking something as warming as coq au vin. I didn’t actually used a rooster for this dish, i used a chicken. I should probably called it poule au vin since it’d be more appropriate, oh well. Same difference.
Chicken soaked in red wine and then braised in the same liquid until the meat is tenderized with a sauce thickened with some beurre manié is simply quite delicious. I cheated a bit by skipping a few steps like not flambeing the chicken with cognac, not using pearl onions and not cooking the vegetables each at a time. It still worked out pretty well.
Mushrooms. I want to share that I find shitake mushrooms or any mushrooms of the dried variety works better than fresh ones for this dish. You see, fresh mushrooms have a lot of liquid that you must get rid off by cooking for a long time. And mushrooms when not cooked properly is an acquire taste. You have to love it so much to not mind the rotting wood flavour/aroma, which is something you’ll get from soggy mushrooms. So do yourselves a favour and use dried mushrooms, re-hydrate and let the liquid be part of your stock too.
My kitchen was hot from making coq au vin but every sweat drop was worth it. This is my sort of semi-cheat version.
Coq au vin (Chicken in Red Wine Sauce)
- 1 whole chicken, cut in 8 pieces OR 6 chicken thighs
- 1 bottle of red wine (use a full bodied red wine like pinot noir, chianti or burgundy or something)
- 4 large carrots, cut into large chunks
- 2 onions, cut into large chunks
- 1 clove of garlic, smashed
- 2 sticks of celery cut into large chunks
- 1 bay leaf
- 150 grams of salt-cured pork, cut into cubes
- shitake mushrooms, hydrated, and cut into quarters, liquid reserved
- 1 cup of crushed tomatoes (the canned ones, like the ones you used for marinara sauce)
- 2 cups of chicken stock
- salt and pepper
- beurre manié (1 tablespoon flour + 1 tablespoon butter, mixed into a paste)
- Dried spices: 2 bay Leaf, rosemary and thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
- The night before, put your chicken pieces in a huge ziplock bag or a large container. Season with salt and pepper, toss in the bay leaves and a crushed clove of garlic. Pour about two cups of red wine to cover the chicken and let it sit in the fridge for at least 4 hours (or better overnight). Marinate in the fridge overnight.
- Next day, take chicken out and reserve the red wine liquid with the garlic and bay leaves. Heat pan on medium and sauté the salt-cured pork until oil renders out and bacon is crisp. If there is too much fat, take some out but leave at least 2 tablespoons of oil in.
- Brown the chicken pieces in the pan with the bacon fat, don’t let. Once all sides are lovely andcaramelized take the chicken out and it’s time to sauté the veggies. The chicken is not supposed to be cooked through.
- Add carrots, onions, celery, mushrooms (if you want to add other root vegetables you can too but those are the four absolute musts) in the same pan. Saute the vegetables until the onions are soft and add the rosemary and thyme in. Season liberally in salt and pepper. Then you can add the chicken pieces back in, pour in the red wine liquid you marinated the chicken with, crushed tomatoes and the chicken stock (and if you reserved the mushroom liquid, it’s time to pour it in here as well). Add 2 more cups of red wine in (or more if you want).
- There are two endings to this. You can cook the coq au vin:
on the stove top tosimmer on medium low heat for 1.5 hours
in a 350degrees oven for 1 hour.I chose the former.
- About 10 minutes before cooking time’s up, stir in the beurre manié and let the sauce thicken.
When your coq au vin permeates deliciousness into the air, you know the good times are nigh. You can serve this with buttered rice or plain white rice or with big flat pasta/noodles like tagliatelle. You can also eat this with bread. AND the coq au vin is tastier the next day too.
Notes: Buerre Marnié is a lovely thickener for this dish but if you’re on gluten-free diets, you can improvise by substituting the butter and flour thickener with some pig’s blood or chicken blood and I got this tip from Anthony Bourdain. Sounds gross but if you like boudin noir or black pudding which is blood sausage, it’s really the same thing. Another alternative would be to add some chopped up chicken liver. I didn’t mention this in the recipe but I added 2 chicken liver, chopped into a fine paste, into this dish to add additional flavour and thickening power. It is optional, of course.