Just because I like to cook it doesn’t mean I don’t love shortcuts in the kitchen. Serving delicious food to my family and friends doesn’t always equal hours spent behind the hot stove. I am usually on the lookout for the recipes that are tasty yet simple. This Coq Au Vin (French for “Chicken in Wine”) is one of those dishes that is good enough to serve for a fancy dinner yet doesn’t require much hands-on time. It could be cooked a few hours in advance and then reheated quickly right before dinner. This way you can relax and make yourself look pretty and avoid greeting your guests all red and sweaty. French cuisine is so impressive for its ability to be sophisticated and deeply satisfying and comforting at the same time. Just look at that spread. Who wouldn’t want to sit down to a bowl of flavourful chicken cooked in wine with some crusty bread!
The rich taste in this wonderful dish comes from the quality ingredients and a few spices artfully put together. No chef skills required. Have no fear, it’s impossible not to ace it! I have made Coq Au Vin numerous times. It doesn’t get old and it’s always a crowd pleaser. You can guess from the name that wine is one of the main ingredients. I am sure you have heard it before but I will say it again- only use the wine that is good enough to drink. I have tried this dish with a bottle of homemade wine and it tasted good or so I thought. Good but not memorable enough to make it my “dinner special”. It took me a few years before I came back to this recipe but I tried cooking with a decent bottle of wine. That time I saw the magic of Coq Au Vin, the quality that stood the test of time and kept this dish on people’s tables for generations.
- Olive Oil- 1 tbsp.
- Pancetta or Bacon lardons (cubed)- 120 gr/4 oz.
- Chicken thighs and legs- 8-10 pieces
- Onion- 1 large
- Carrots- 2 medium
- Garlic (chopped)- 1-2 cloves
- Brandy or Whisky- 1/4 cup
- Red Wine (your choice)-1/2 bottle
- Chicken Stock- 1 cup
- Thyme- 8-10 springs
- Butter- 1 tbsp.
- Flour- 1 1/2 tbsp for thickening (could substitute for corn starch for gluten-free version)
- Mushrooms- 250 gr/ 1/2 pound
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 120C/250F.
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large Dutch oven. (If you have a cast iron pot it’s perfect for it.) Fry your bacon lardons for 8-10 minutes until browned and remove them to a plate lined with paper towel.
Season your chicken pieces with salt and pepper and brown them in the same pot in batches to avoid overcrowding. Remove to the same plate as bacon. You are not cooking your chicken all the way through, just browning on both sides.
Slice your onions and carrots in medium sized chunks and add them to the pot with salt and pepper, cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer stirring the whole time not allowing it to burn. Add your brandy and scrape all the burned bits to incorporate them into your sauce, now add bacon and chicken with all the juices they collected, pour in your wine, chicken stock and thyme sprigs and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover with a lid and put it in the oven for 40 minutes.
When chicken is no longer pink mix melted butter with flour and stir in the sauce. Slice mushrooms thickly and add to the pot, taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Put back in the oven with the lid off for 10-15 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.
Serve Coq Au Vin with mashed potatoes and crusty French bread and of course, a glass of nice French wine. Bon Appetit!
Note: The recipe is adapted from Ina Garten’s Coq Au Vin.