I’m Coo Coo for Coq au Vin

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Coq au vin is the perfect example of how French peasant food has become haute cuisine – a dish that is traditionally made with an old rooster so that it does not go to waste has become a $20 a plate staple in most French bistros. Traditionally the dish not only calls for an old rooster (good luck finding one of those today), but involves marinating the bird in wine for several days and a long, slow braise to produce a delicious, rich, filling and nutritious meal. I have several recipes for coq au vin, all of which are a multi-day process, except for this one. It comes from the 10th edition of the Betty Crocker Better Homes  and Gardens New Cookbook. While the end result of this dish is not as rich and flavorful as a more traditional recipe, the prep and cooking time is significantly less and it could easily be put together and made for dinner in one night (It can be done, start to finish in less than 2 hours).

The Software
2 1/2 pounds of chicken parts, skin on
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 –18 pearl onions or shallots, peeled
1 1/4 cup red wine, preferably Burgundy or a lighter Pinot Noir
1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
1 cup thinly sliced carrot
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
3 tablespoons parsley

The Recipe
In a 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Don’t use a non-stick skillet for this.
Season the chicken and add to the pan, skin side down.
Note: You want about 1/2 inch of space between the pieces. If there is not enough space, brown the chicken in 2 batches.
Cook for approximately 8 minutes until it begins to brown and flip cooking for another 8 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the pan, drain off the fat and reserve two tablespoons, being careful not to lose any fond on the pan.
Add the 2 tablespoons of fat back to the pan and reduce the heat to medium.
Add mushrooms, carrot and onions and sauté for about 5 minutes.
Add garlic, parsley, marjoram, thyme, bay leaf and wine and bring to a boil.
Once at a boil, add the chicken, reduce heat and simmer covered on medium-low until the chicken is done, about 35-40 minutes.
When chicken is cooked, remove from the pan to a plate and discard bay leaf. Leave the vegetables and wine in the pan. Increase heat to medium.
In a separate bowl combine the flour and butter and mash with the back of a spoon until a smooth paste is formed.
Whisk the paste to the sauce and stir until it begins to thicken and bubble.
Cook for one additional minute after it begins to bubble and taste. Add salt and pepper as needed.
Turn off the heat and return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan for 2 minutes.
Server over a bed of noodles using the remaining parsley and bacon as a garnish.

Most of this recipe is copied as is from its original source with a couple of modifications in techniques added by yours truly. The original recipe calls for chicken parts – breast, drumstick and thighs, but I would highly recommend only using thighs – they are fairly uniform, they are much harder to dry out and will produce the best flavor in this dish. I prefer shallots to pearl onions in this dish, as I like their flavor more. You need about 1 – 1/1/2 cups of sliced shallots for this dish. Traditionally this isn’t served over anything, but it works well with egg noodles, fettuccini, rice (really good over risotto) or mashed potatoes. The searing of the chicken could probably be done ahead of time and then everything thrown into a slow cooker – I have never tried it, but it is a braise, so it should work. There are a few techniques with this that I would love to try at some point so be on the lookout for the variations of this recipe some time in the future.

5 thoughts on “I’m Coo Coo for Coq au Vin

  1. Loved this. I added some fresh tarragon and used bacon fat instead of bacon (I loathe American bacon). I also went to caramelization on the onions. Same as above in all else tho. High marks from all.


  2. It really does produce a pretty high quality product considering it really isn’t a traditional recipe. You can never go wrong with adding fresh herbs – did you use them at the beginning or end?

    If you have a problem with the bacon, you should try some of the locally produced stuff. My personal favorites are Skagit River Ranch (only available at farmers markets), Blue Valley Meats (available on line – they have dropoff locations around Seattle every couple of weeks) and the Swinery in West Seattle (they have a store).

    Come to think of it, I think I need to have a bacon blind tasting at some point….


  3. My problem with American bacon is the overwhelming use of salt and of hickory. Salt I can handle (Julia says blanch it, which helps, but drains flavor, too), but European bacon (back bacon) is lightly salted and unsmoked. There’s a meat shop down in Olympia that uses sugar and salt, and very little smoke, and I’ve laid in about ten pounds of the stuff, but I’m still on the hunt for true back bacon in America. (The low-sodium versions are a fair substitute).

    Do any of the charcuteries you mention have a product like that?

    As for the tarragon, herbs always go in last, and I added mine about 12 minutes before serving.


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