I learned this Coq au Vin recipe at the Le Cordon Bleu School in Paris, so it should be ‘authentic’, right? The truth is, there are quite a few variations for this dish, but they all have the same thing in common: a chicken stew cooked in wine, accompanied by mushrooms, smoked bacon and onions and sprinkled with parsley. I’ve added some homemade croutons to my dish for a French rustic touch.
Coq au Vin is a French country dish, evolved from the farm where the resident rooster was cooked in a pot when it could no longer ‘service’ the hens. The rooster’s blood was often used to thicken the stew- in fact, we were given the option of thickening our Coq au Vin with pig’s blood at Le Cordon Bleu. (FYI, no one in my class opted to use this technique, instead thickening the sauce with butter and flour. In fact, the chef said she would refuse to taste our dish if we used the blood!).
There are some variations for this dish: the Cordon Bleu recipe recommends that you first marinate the chicken pieces in red wine, preferably overnight. As a comparison, Julia Child omits this step with her dish, getting right into cooking the chicken with the wine and stock. (I know which method I’d prefer)! Cordon Bleu also recommends cooking the chicken in both wine and aromatic vegetables, such as carrots and celery. The vegetables, which are eventually discarded, help to give your sauce a much deeper flavour at the end.
And finally, this dish is served so that you can identify each of the ingredients on the plate. In fact, most of the elements are cooked separately (i.e. the mushrooms, onions and bacon) and are then all assembled at the end. No more having the chicken and mushrooms lost in an avalanche of sauce- each ingredient ‘takes pride of place’ and can easily be identified. This dish is Country French at its best!
P.S. I’d love it if you’d ‘like’ my G’day Souffle’ Facebook page- it would really make my day!
- 1 large onion, cut into wedges
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1 Bouquet Garni (2 bay leaves and several sprigs of thyme tied together)
- 8 - 10 black peppercorns
- 4 cups red wine
- 1/4 Cognac (optional)
- 1 chicken, cut-up into pieces, with bones in
- salt and pepper to season the chicken
- 1 - 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 Bouquet Garni
- 3 tbsp plain flour
- 1/2 cup red wine, reduced to a glaze
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1 large onion, sliced thinly
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup water
- Pinch salt and sugar
- Binding (thickening) agent (beurre manié)
- 3 tbsp flour
- 2 tbsp softened butter
- 15 - 20 button mushrooms
- 8 ounces speck (smoked slab bacon)
- 3 tbsp parsley, chopped
- Crusty bread rolls or baguettes, brushed with oil or butter, toasted in oven
- Place all marinade ingredients in a large bowl; add the chicken pieces to the marinade, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight if possible.
- Remove chicken pieces and pat dry with paper towel. Set aside the marinade mixture for later.
- Heat several tbsps. of oil in a Dutch oven or large casserole dish. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper, then brown in several batches over medium high heat, about 3 minutes each side. Remove from the pan and drain the fat.
- Now add the following ingredients back to the Dutch oven or pan: browned chicken pieces, wine and vegetables from the marinade, flour and Bouquet Garni. Add enough of the chicken stock to cover the ingredients (1 - 2 cups of stock). Place cover on the pan and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the chicken meat is tender.
- While the chicken is baking, prepare the onion ‘confit.’ Place sliced onions into fry pan with some butter, add the water, pinch of salt and sugar. Cover with parchment paper and simmer over medium low heat until the oinions soften and the moisture reduces.
- In separate small saucepan, reduce the 1/2 cup red wine until it becomes syrup, add the vinegar and simmer for several minutes. Add this mixture to the ‘confit’ onions and set aside.
- Sauté the button mushrooms in butter for several minutes until soft and set aside.
- Cut the bacon speck into thin strips about 1 inch long and ¼ inch wide, add some oil to a fry pan and brown for several minutes over medium high heat. Remove the bacon from the pan, pat dry with a paper towel and add the bacon to the mushrooms.
- When the chicken pieces are cooked, remove the pan from oven, set aside the chicken pieces, strain the vegetables and herbs from the cooking liquid and discard. Reduce the cooking liquid over medium heat until it reduces to about 2/3 of the original volume. To prepare the thickening agent, massage the butter and flour together with your fingers to form a smooth paste. Beat the paste into the hot liquid with a wire whisk and simmer for several minutes until the sauce thickens. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, adjust seasoning to taste.
- To serve, add the ‘confit’ onion mixture to the bottom of the serving dish, arrange the chicken pieces, speck and button mushrooms around the dish and then pour some sauce on top. Be careful not to 'drown' the ingredients with the sauce, you still should be able to make out the individual ingredients in the dish.
- Garnish with chopped parsley and several pieces of toasted baguettes.