Antelope Valley Press - AV Living (Antelope Valley)
Coq au vin: It’s what’s for dinner
As the weather begins to cool down, just a little bit from the highs in August, it’s time for me to start thinking about using the stove again. It’s not quite cool enough to reach for the cookbook to look up a good beef stew or beef bourguignon, but I think it’s a good time to break out some bottles of wine for a hearty French dish called coq au vin.
The literal translation is “rooster with wine.” It’s a type of chicken fricassee with red or white wine used as the base. Although red wine is typical, a sweet Riesling, which is easy to find, works as well.
But I think we should take a step back. This recipe is based on Julia Child’s coq au vin, from her “Mastering The Art of French Cooking” and she makes a point of explaining the differences between similar, and often confused, dishes.
First there’s the sauté and then there’s the stew. In a sauté, no liquid is used in the cooking process. Compare
that to a stew, where the chicken is simmered in liquid from the very start.
The fricassee is halfway between the two ends. The chicken is first cooked in butter (remember, this is French cooking) and then liquid, in this case wine, is added.
One great part about the fricassee is it’s great even a few hours later, as it loses nothing from being reheated.
While the recipe is coq au vin, it could be called coq au Riesling, coq au merlot or coq au pinot noir, after whichever wine forms the base.
Child calls for using a whole chicken, but I find it much easier to either use bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs or chicken legs. Just using brown meat means everything will be ready at the same time and eliminates problems of juicy thigh meat and dry breast meat.
One change I’ve made here is to marinate the chicken before cooking it.
Coq au vin can be served with rice, pasta or potatoes, and I’ve included a recipe for buttered potatoes because I think they go so perfectly — especially with the sauce.
There is one important and potentially dangerous flourish in the coq au vin recipe. You get to flambé the chicken, that is, pour cognac or brandy over the hot chicken, light it on fire and shake the pan until the flames subside. Do it with extreme caution.
Child suggests serving a young, full-bodied red Burgundy, Beaujolais or Côtes du Rhône, which isn’t exactly a fair way to tell people in America to buy wine in 2021 (Child’s cookbook was published in 1961), since all three refer to wines that only be from certain parts of France.
Burgundy refers to wine from the Burgundy region of France and they are usually dry, red wines from pinot noir and sometimes gamay grapes and white wines from chardonnay and aligoté grapes.
Côtes du Rhône usually refers to wines grown along the Rhône river, often red Syrah and white Viognier.
Beaujolais refers to wine from the Beaujolais region of eastern France. Most of the wine produced here is red from gamay grapes. It’s described as a light-bodied red wine with high acidity and low tannins.
• 3 cups hearty wine (red or white)
more for marinating
• 1-2 cups beef or chicken stock
• 4 ounces of bacon, chopped into
• 2 to 3 pounds chicken thighs or
• 1/4 cup cognac or brandy
• 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
• 2 cloves of mashed garlic
• 12 to 24 pearl onions or, 2 medium
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1/2 pound sliced mushrooms
• 4 medium carrots, chopped
• Marinate the chicken pieces in enough wine to cover, either for 30 minutes or overnight.
• In a heavy casserole dish/Dutch oven, cook the chopped bacon in 2 tablespoons hot butter until lightly browned. Remove to a side dish.
• Dry the chicken pieces. Without crowding, brown them on both sides in the dish with the hot butter and bacon fat.
• Season all of the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
• Return the bacon to the pan with the chicken, turn the heat to medium-low and cook, covered, for 10 minutes.
• Uncover the pan and carefully pour in the cognac/brandy. Being careful of one’s face, light the alcohol on fire, then shake the dish back and forth until the flames go out.
• Remove the chicken and bacon to a side dish and add the mushrooms to the hot fat. Cook until they begin to brown, 5-10 minutes. Once the mushrooms begin to brown, add the pearl or sliced onions, carrots and garlic and continue to brown, 3-5 more minutes.
• Add the wine to the pot, put the chicken into the pot, skin-side up. Add enough chicken or beef stock to barely cover the chicken. Add the tomato paste.
• Simmer, with the lid on, for 25-30 minutes, until the chicken juices run clear, when the thighs are pricked.
• Remove the lid, turn heat on high and reduce the sauce for 3-8 minutes, until it reaches the desired thickness.
• Serve or refrigerate, store and reheat for later serving the following day.
BUTTERED POTATOES Ingredients
• 6-10 small to medium red potatoes • 3+ tablespoons butter
• Seasonings as desired
• 2 tablespoons fresh chopped
• Wash the potatoes
• Cut the potatoes in quarters or eighths
• Put the potatoes in a large pot of cold water. Put the pot on high heat, with the lid partially on and bring to a boil.
• Boil for 15-20 minutes, until the pieces are tender when poked with a knife.
• Drain the potatoes and return them to the hot pot. Put the pot on medium-low heat so the remaining water evaporates, 1-2 minutes.
• Put the butter in the pot and sprinkle the seasonings, except parsley, on top.
• Shake the pot so the butter and seasonings coat all the potatoes.
• Put the potatoes in a serving dish and sprinkle the parsley on top.
Buttered potatoes recipe by Amee Winters via www. tastykitchen.com