Coq au vin is a simple, rustic dish that translates to “chicken with wine.” Julia Child made this peasant dish familiar to Americans on her cooking show and in her books, but there are many versions. Some are made with white wine, others are marinated overnight with wine and vegetables, and still other styles include sauteed winter vegetables.
A basic coq au vin is sauteed, then slowly simmered in wine and bacon is added to bring a slightly smoky flavor to the rich wine sauce.
Coq is French for rooster, and the classic recipe was originally developed to use up older, tougher chickens. Long braised in a wine sauce, the chicken then became tender. However, young chicken pieces are used these days, so there is no need to braise them for hours. This simplified stovetop recipe is quick to put together and takes less than an hour to cook. And, best of all, it gives up nothing in flavor. You can use any variety of chicken parts totaling about 3 1/2 pounds.
Steamed or roasted baby potatoes would make an excellent side dish, and I always make sure to serve the same style of wine in the dish as my beverage.
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Diane Rossen Worthington: www.seriouslysimple.com.
Coq au Vin
6 strips bacon (about 1/3 pound), cut into 1-inch pieces
3 chicken breast halves
3 chicken drumsticks
3 chicken thighs
1/4cup all-purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1/4 cup brandy
2 cups full-bodied red wine, such as cabernet sauvignon
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 pound medium white mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
1 (10-ounce) bag frozen pearl onions, thawed
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
In a large Dutch oven with a lid, cook the bacon until crisp, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Reserve. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the drippings from the pan.
In a large mixing bowl or a resealable plastic bag, combine the flour, salt, pepper and chicken. Toss until well coated.
Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan with the drippings on medium-high heat. Working on batches, brown the chicken pieces, turning often, for about 5 to 7 minutes per batch. Place the browned pieces in a bowl while cooking the second batch.
Return all the browned chicken to the pan, and pour in the brandy. Averting your eyes and making sure the overhead fan is turned off, light a match and ignite the brandy. When the alcohol has burned off, the flames will go out. Add the wine, tomato paste and garlic, and cover the Dutch oven.
Cook on medium-low about 50 minutes, or until the chicken is very tender when pierced with a fork. (Remove the breasts when they are cooked through and no pink remains. Set aside.)
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet. Add the carrots and saute until slightly softened, about 4 minutes. Reserve. Add the mushrooms to the skillet and saute for 3 to 5 minutes or until cooked and slightly softened. Turn up the heat and add the defrosted onions, stirring until lightly glazed and heated through, about 2 to 3 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
When the chicken is cooked and the sauce is slightly thickened, return the breasts to the pot and add the carrot-onion-mushroom mixture; mix to combine. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the parsley, season to taste and transfer onto a serving platter. Serve immediately.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings.