Sunday, March 1, 2009

Coq Au Vin

I've made this dish a couple times before, but never posted it. I wouldn't say it's my favorite dish, but it's pretty good, and it's a great way to use up a lot of wine that you wouldn't otherwise drink. Abby and I had a couple half empty bottles of wine sitting around from an earlier dinner party, and, while I would normally make something like braised shortribs with the extra wine, I've already had a blog entry with shortribs, so I figured I would give this dish another spin. It's a classic French bistro preparation, and, at least in the intermediate steps, it doesn't look pretty.
See? This is what chicken looks like when its been marinated in red wine for 24 hours. Not nice. Enough on that, though. Here's the recipe.

  • 1 chicken (you can leave it whole, or cut it up. I cut it up and reserve he wing tips and back bone for stock)
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 3 carrots, tourneed (cut into football shapes)
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • bouquet garnit (bay leaf, thyme, parsley, garlic clove, and black peppercorns)
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 12-16 pearl onions
  • 1/8 to 1/4 lb slab bacon, cut into lardons
  • 1/4 to 1/2 lb button mushrooms
  • red wine, about a bottle.
  • butter
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • pinch of sugar
Start by marinating the chicken in red wine with the chopped carrot, onion, celery, and cloves for 24 hours. Remove the chicken - it will look all gross and mottled like the picture above, and strain out the vegetables, reserving the wine.
Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Add a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil to a large dutch oven and brown the chicekn on both sides over medium high heat. Again, it doesn't look too pretty, but it's getting better.
Remove the chicken, add the vegetables from the marinade, and cook over medium heat. After about ten minutes, stir in 1 to 1.5 T flour. Cook this for another minute or two, then add the chicken and enough red wine to cover the chicken half's a braise, not a stew. Cook over low heat for about an hour, turing occassionally.
As this is simmering, turn your attention to the other ingredients: the bacon, onions, carrots, and, if you like them, the mushrooms. Traditioally, this dish has mushrooms, and not carrots, but I'm not a huge mushroom fan and I had several extra carrots in the fridge.

Start by cutting the bacon into lardons and cook until crispy. I decided to use salt pork instead because, while I love bacon, I thought that the smokey flavor it imparts would be a bit too dominant. When you're done with the bacon, remove all but about 1 Tbsp of the fat and add 1 smashed clove of garlic to the pan, let this brown for a few seconds and add the mushrooms, stemmed and halved or quartered. Cook until done and set aside.
Next, peel the onions and tournee the carrots so they are about the same size as the onions (you can kind of see the carrots in the picture below). To glaze the onions ad carrots, put them in a pot just big enough to hold them all in one layer. Add a pinch of salt, a pinch of sugar, and 2 Tbsp butter. Add enough water to just cover everything and cover it with a sheet of parchment paper cut to the size of the pot. Bring this to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. When the water has evaporated, remove the paper and continue cooking to slightly brown the vegetables.

Once done, remove the vegatables, add a splash of red wine and scrape up any of the fond that might have developed. By this time, the chicken should be done. Remove the chicken and strain the cooking liquid into a fat separator. Pour the separated braising liquid into the pot with the reduced red wine, turn the heat way up, and reduce the volume by half. If you want to reduce this really quickly, pour everything into a really wide pan. More surface area=more efficient evaporation=faster reduction. Return the chicken to the pan to coat in the braising liquid, then plate with the bacon, onions, carrots, and mushrooms. I think its good to serve this with polenta since (A) polenta is super easy to make, and (B) polenta is perfect for soaking up tasty braising liquid.

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