“Find something you’re interested in and keep tremendously passionate about it.”
A Simple Twist on the Classic Coq au Vin
There are some things I know for certain; almost anything tastes better cooked in butter, if cream is added to a dish it will be delicious, perfectly roasted chicken skin is AWESOME and just about anything that Julia Child cooked includes one or ALL of these things.
I know something else too; if I included one or all of those things to most of my cooking I wouldn’t really be doing my health (or waistline) any great favours. So I spend a fair amount of time trying to figure out ways of enjoying these things but in moderation. Being open to experimentation and modification is the answer and a good way to enjoy the rich deliciousness without the extravagance.
It goes without saying that the original Coq au Vin recipe is a gorgeous classic and a staple that every self-respecting home chef should have in their repertoire. I think it should also go without saying that it can be terrifically time-consuming and we don’t all have endless hours to spend on any given day creating it. Now look, I’m not suggesting that you should NEVER make the recipe to Julia Child’s original specifications… of course you should! But what I’ve tried to do is give you an option which will cut some of the time and quite a bit of the fat and calories.
There’s another reason that I’ve altered this recipe over the several years I’ve been making it; some of the steps are frankly just a little tedious and as always I try to simplify and make attainable what seems otherwise out of reach. Dreading kitchen tasks is never a good feeling and I gotta be honest here, I canNOT stand dealing with pearl onions. Happily, by swapping them out I’ve also eliminated one of those heavy handed butter steps… WIN/WIN!
You can NEVER go wrong braising chicken in wine!
I once served this modified version of Julia Child’s famous Coq au Vin to one of my aunts, a woman whom I deeply admire for her culinary knowledge and overall excellent taste in most things. I was a little nervous. I mean I had messed around with a classic and I wasn’t certain where she stood on such matters. She was, as always, gracious and generous with her compliments but it wasn’t until a few weeks later that I received a true gift. She told someone else that it was the best Coq au Vin she had ever had! Once I heard that I knew that I had to share it with you.
Wine pairing: I’m adding this long past the date the recipe was published. It’s a long term project! My knowledgeable wine expert has suggested that we should serve the same wine with which we cooked the dish. “Coq au Vin wants the same wine you made it with, likely a nice burgundy or other Pinot Noir.” You may note in the recipe that I state only “red wine” mostly because I hope to encourage you to make this easy and elegant dish regardless what wine you have on hand. One rule for cooking with wine however, is that if you wouldn’t drink it then you probably shouldn’t cook with it either!
Enjoy & Namaste!
- 4 slices thick cut
bacon,cut into 1 inchpieces
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into quarters
- 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut in half
- 3 TBSP + 1 TBSP butter
- 2 medium onions, sliced
- 20-30 mushrooms, larger ones quartered or halved
- ¼ cup cognac
- 3 cups red wine
- 1-2 cups chicken stock
- 1 TBSP tomato paste
- 2 cloves
garlic,smashed with flat of knife
- 10-12 stems of fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups green peas, green beans or
other vegetableof choice (optional)
- 3 TBSP flour
- 2 TBSP butter, room temp
- Cooked egg noodles, buttered potatoes, mashed potatoes or other starch of choice
- In a large heavy bottomed pan, render bacon until crisp and golden, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside
- Season chicken pieces with S&P and being careful to not overcrowd brown on all sides.
- Once all the chicken pieces have been browned add bacon to pan
- Add cognac and VERY CAREFULLY light, shaking pan gently until flames subside. I can't stress strongly enough how careful you must be during this phase. I mean I'm not your mother but give a little care with this step alright, please!
- Add red wine, tomato paste and enough chicken broth to cover chicken pieces. Add the garlic and lay the thyme stems and bay leaf across the top for easy retrieval
- Cover the chicken and cook at a gentle simmer for about 25 minutes.
- While the chicken is cooking prepare your onions and mushrooms.
- Caramelize onions in about 3 TBSP butter until golden, about 20-25 minutes, remove to small bowl.
- In the same pan, melt another TBSP of butter and brown mushrooms, about 15 minutes, set aside.
- Remove the thyme stems and bay leaf from the chicken and discard. Remove the chicken pieces to a plate and bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
- Mash the room temperature butter and flour together with a fork until smooth creating a beurre manié.
- Using a whisk, whip the beurre manié into the gently boiling sauce and allow to cook for 4 or 5 minutes to cook out the flour taste and to thicken the sauce until it coats the back of a spoon.
- Adjust seasoning as necessary.
- Arrange chicken pieces on serving platter or individual plates and top with caramelized onions, mushrooms and glaze liberally with the thickened sauce.
- Serve with vegetable and starch of choice.