One of the iconic dishes of France, coq au vin has its roots in the farmhouse cooking of Burgundy. It was originally made with the tough coq, or “rooster,” when he was past his prime. Long, slow cooking in wine was required to produce tender meat, and the wine of choice was a red Burgundy. Today, younger chickens are used, and a lighter Pinot Noir from elsewhere could be used and still remain true to the regional flavor of the recipe.
Coq au Vin
3 oz. (90 g) lean bacon, cut into strips 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide and 1⁄4 inch (3 mm) thick
12 pearl onions
4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) (2 oz./60 g) unsalted butter
1 chicken, 4 to 5 lb. (2 to 2.5 kg), cut into serving pieces
1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
2 Tbs. brandy
1 3/4 cups (14 fl. oz./430 ml) red Burgundy or other medium-bodied red wine
3 sprigs fresh thyme
3 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 lb. (250 g) white mushrooms, halved
Place the bacon strips in a small saucepan with cold water to cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain the bacon, rinse under running cold water, and pat dry with paper towels.
Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pearl onions and boil for 10 minutes. Drain. Cut off the root ends of the onions, slip off the skins and trim off the stems.
In a deep, large heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt 3 Tbs. of the butter until it foams. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the bacon and onions and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon and onions to a plate. Add the chicken to the pan, raise the heat to medium and cook, turning as needed, until the chicken begins to brown, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour and cook, turning occasionally, until the chicken and the flour are browned, about 5 minutes.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and pour the brandy over the chicken. Using a long-handled match, ignite the brandy and let burn until the flames subside. Return the bacon and onions to the pan and place over medium heat. Add 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) of the wine and deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon to dislodge any browned bits. Add the remaining 3⁄4 cup (6 fl. oz./180 ml) wine, the thyme, parsley, bay leaf, pepper and salt, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is opaque throughout and the meat begins to pull away from the bones, 45 to 60 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a frying pan over medium-high heat, melt the remaining 1 Tbs. butter until it foams. Add the mushrooms and sauté just until lightly golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside. About 15 minutes before the chicken is done, add the mushrooms to the chicken.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken, onions, mushrooms and bacon to a bowl. Using a spoon, skim off the fat from the pan juices. Raise the heat to high, bring to a boil and cook until the liquid has thickened and reduced by nearly half, about 5 minutes. Return the chicken, onions, mushrooms and bacon to the pan. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring, until heated through, 3 to 4 minutes.
Serve the coq au vin directly from the pan or transfer to a warmed serving dish. Serves 4 to 5.
Recipe adapted from Williams Sonoma Essentials of French Cooking