Saturday, February 25, 2012

Coq au Vin

We had dinner at Architect’s house this week and she made Coq au Vin, French for "rooster with wine." This braise of chicken cooked with wine, onions, and mushrooms quickly becomes a household favorite once served. There are many versions of this long-time rustic favorite and Architect used the Cook Illustrated version. Cooks Illustrated does a great job of paring down complicated recipes to easier adaptations while retaining the full flavor and spirit of the original. I just received my first subscription and I am eager to read and learn from one of the masters.

Regardless of the version, the chicken used – Architect used boneless thighs – is marinated in red wine then seared and simmered in fat, CI uses bacon. Architect cooked this culinary classic in her often-employed and well-loved Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven…I’m so jealous! Once the meat is simmered and tender, the usual suspects of seasonings are added and finally the sauce is thickened. Upon serving, the lucky diner is immediately transported to the lovely Parisian countryside! Perfect served over a bed of egg noodles.

Coq au Vin
From: Cooks Illustrated

1 bottle fruity, smooth, medium-bodied red wine like a Cabernet or Beaujolais
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
10 sprigs fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
4 ounces bacon, preferably thick-cut, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat and cut in half crosswise
Table salt and ground black pepper
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
24 frozen pearl onions, thawed, drained, and patted dry (about 1 cup)
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, wiped clean, stems trimmed, halved if small and quartered if large
2 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1. Bring all but 1 tablespoon wine (reserve for later use), broth, parsley sprigs, thyme, and bay to simmer in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until reduced to 3 cups, about 25 minutes. Discard herbs.

2. Meanwhile, cook bacon in large Dutch oven over medium heat until browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper-towel-lined plate. Reserve 2 tablespoons fat in small bowl; discard remaining fat.

3. Lightly season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon reserved bacon fat in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add half of chicken in single layer and cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to plate and repeat with remaining chicken and 1 tablespoon bacon fat.

4. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in now-empty Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When foaming subsides, add pearl onions and mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 5 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomato paste and flour; cook, stirring frequently, until well combined, about 1 minute.

5. Add reduced wine mixture, scraping bottom of pot with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits; add 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Return chicken, any accumulated juices, and reserved bacon to pot; increase heat to high and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot, and simmer until chicken is tender, about 25 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking time.

6. Using slotted spoon, transfer chicken to large bowl; tent with foil to keep warm. Increase heat to medium-high and simmer sauce until thick and glossy and measures 3 1/4 cups, about 5 minutes. Off heat, stir in remaining 2 tablespoons butter and reserved 1 tablespoon wine. Season to taste with salt. Return chicken to pot and top with minced parsley. Serve immediately over a bed of egg noodles.

We also had a field green, blood orange and pistachio salad served in the lovely traveling salad bowl and a fantastic bottle of French wine. Again, dessert will be a separate post!

Rooster image from

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