Vivek raises our cooking IQ with another edition of Higher Learning!
Coq Au Vin is one of those classic French dishes that screams both sophistication and comfort. I once lived in Washington, DC and when I first moved there, I bunked up with my friend, Andrew, in Arlington. The first day, I was wondering around the neighborhood and found this tiny little French restaurant. The special of the day was coq au vin. I ordered it and was just amazed. The braised chicken is so moist and has soaked up all the flavor of the wine it’s cooked in. With a nice starch to soak up all the lovely juices of the broth, this dish is irresistible. I knew then that I had to recreate this dish at home.
The dish does not require a lot of ingredients, so it’s all about executing on the technique. Spend enough time browning your chicken, sauteing your aromatic vegetables, and then reducing the sauce at the end.
(Recipe adapted from Tyler Florence’s Stirring the Pot, serves 4)
1 3 to 4 pound whole free range chicken
Extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup all purpose flour
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 slices bacon
2 carrots, cut into chunks
1 large onion, cut into chunks
3 ribs celery
1 cup mushrooms, halved
1/4 bunch of fresh thyme, about 6-7 sprigs)
1 bay leaf
1 750 mL bottle dry red wine (like burgundy)
2 tbsp butter, unsalted
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
Cut the chicken into 10 pieces (or have your butcher do it) into 2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 wings, and a quartered breast. In a large heavy pot, preferably a Dutch oven, heat a 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Season the flour with salt and pepper and dredge the chicken pieces in it until they are completely coated. Add 5 pieces into the pan and cook about 7-10 minutes until the chicken is nice and golden brown on both sides. Remove those pieces to a plate and then cook the rest of the chicken the same way. Remove the chicken to the plate.
Add the bacon, onion, celery, carrots, and mushrooms to the pot, season with salt, and cook for about 10 minutes until everything is brown. Then add the garlic, thyme, and bay leaf. Pour in all the wine and deglaze the pan using a wooden spoon to scrape up all those browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken back to the pot with any collected juices. Bring the liquid up to a boil and then reduce the heat to simmer. Cover the pot and braise over simmer/low heat for about an hour. Remove the lid and carefully remove the chicken to a clean platter. Strain the braising liquid into a clean, wide fry pan. Bring the mixture up to a boil and reduce until the sauce is thick. Add a pat of butter to make the sauce shiny. Add the chicken back to the sauce and baste the chicken pieces with the sauce. Taste the sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve the dish with mashed potatoes and some roasted vegetables and you have one incredible meal! Coq au Vin may sound fancy, but with some good technique and great ingredients, it’s a great dish to prepare. And when done right, there is nothing else I want.