Coq Au Vin

Published on November 3, 2019

Coq au vin or ‘rooster with wine’ is a classic French stew in which chicken is braised slowly in red wine and cognac or brandy, bits of bacon, fresh thyme, mushrooms, carrots, garlic and onions. Originally the dish was engineered to cook adult male chickens or roosters. The young male cockerels that grow up and become roosters that “cock a doodle doo,” have tough meat and the acid in the wine tenderizes it. Most modern recipes are done with the female chickens or hens, the normal chicken you find in the store, which is already tender if cooked properly. So using wine results in very tender, juicy meat and a very tasty sauce.

“Julia Child included coq au vin in her 1961 cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and she prepared it twice on the PBS cooking show The French Chef. This exposure helped to increase the visibility and popularity of the dish in the United States, and {like her Boeuf Bourguignon} coq au vin was seen as one of Child’s signature dishes.” Wikipedia

You’ll find recipes with dry white wine has been substituted for the red. The cognac and brandy are said to be optional. Some add bay leaves and parsley. One chef adds Herbs de Provence along with the thyme. Shallots can be used in place of the onion.

The first time I made it for us, it was agreed that having to deal with bones and skin and cartilage getting lost in the sauce isn’t ideal. I also felt like there was too much sauce for the amount of meat especially if you were serving over mashed potatoes and not serving it in bowls and eating it like a stew. To solve this second problem I added additional chicken pieces. For the first issue, I decided to ‘color outside the lines’ a little, and, breaking with the tradition at the point where the chicken pieces are removed and the sauce is gently simmering so it reduces and thickens, I removed the bones and skin before returning the chicken to the pot along with the prepared mushrooms, pearl onions and the ‘beurre mania’ at which point it simmers another 10 minutes to continue thickening the sauce. The classic presentation of whole chicken pieces a top a mound of vegetables or mashed potatoes with leg bones sticking up, is lost but it’s still a completely delicious looking dish.

Coq Au Vin

Chicken Ingredients

Instructions

It is recommended that you use the French practice of ‘mise en place’ which means to have all the ingredients prepared and ready to go before you start the cooking. It allows you to concentrate on the cooking and removes a lot of stress, and you won’t over cook something or miss a step or an ingredient. I’ve made a habit of always doing ‘mise en place’ because it makes cooking more enjoyable for me, but it’s especially good to do it for more complex recipes that have a lot of steps to them.

Preparation:

Slice the bacon.

Rinse and dry the chicken and sprinkle it with salt and pepper.

Cut up the carrots, the onion and the garlic.

Have the tomato paste measured in a spoon or small dish.

Tie up the sprigs of thyme.

Place the 3 tablespoons of butter along side the flour on a small plate to come to room temperature so you can combine them with a fork (If you are using tapioca flour/starch, it can get messy and you may prefer a bowling a spoon to keep the starch contained.)

Wash and trim the mushrooms, leaving some of the stem, and cut them in half.

To peel the pearl onions, cut off each end and place them in boiling water for 30 seconds and then plunge them into ice water to completely stop the cooking. Make a slit down one side with a paring knife and slip them out of the outer skin.

Lastly, measure the wine and cognac into measuring cups. Pour 1/2 cup of the chicken broth into a measuring cup and set aside for the pearl onions.

Sometime during the preparations, preheat your oven to 325 degrees. And heat a large dutch oven or large heavy skillet over medium high.

Cooking:

When everything is ready and pot/skillet is hot, add the avocado oil to the pot and then the bacon. Cook the bacon until it starts to get crispy, tilt the pan and gather the pieces at the top end and remove them to a medium sized bowl. Add half of the chicken pieces, skin side down, and brown each side for about 5 minutes and remove to the bowl with the bacon. Repeat with the rest of the chicken pieces. Remove the chicken and add the onions, carrots, salt and pepper and cook them for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned.

Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Pour in the cognac, wine, the chicken stock in the can (about 1 1/4 cups) and the tomato paste. Stir to combine. Add the bundled thyme, cooked chicken pieces and bacon along with any juices in the bowl. Bring to a simmer, cover with foil. Bake in the oven for 1 hour.

While the chicken is cooking, cook the onions and mushrooms.

Onion Ingredients

Instructions

Following the instructions above for peeling the onions and below for cooking them, you should have a nice presentation of whole (not falling apart), fully cooked onions.

Heat the butter and oil in a 8″ enamel pot on medium hight. Add the onions and lightly brown. Add the 1/2 cup broth and herbs. Bring to a boil, turn heat down and simmer uncovered for 30 – 40 minutes. There should be a couple tablespoons of the juices left.

Mushroom Ingredients

Instructions

Heat the butter and oil in a large heavy bottomed skillet (a scan pan works great). Add the mushrooms and cook until they have shrunk to half their original size and are browned. Remove to a plate or add to the cooling onions.

When the chicken in done, remove it to the stove and turn on the heat. Using tongs transfer the chicken pieces to the bowl. You’re going to boil the sauce gently for about 10 minutes. At this point you can remove the skin and bones from the chicken pieces if you want to. After the sauce has been boiled, add the chicken back into the sauce along with the onions and mushrooms and stir in the flour and butter mixture. Let this cook and thicken for about 10 minutes (longer is okay). Remove from heat, cool and refrigerate.

The next day, reheat and serve with mashed potatoes and braised vegetable roots (recipe below).

Braised Root Vegetables

Ingredients

Instructions

Heat oil and butter in a medium size pot over medium high heat. Add the vegetables, sprinkle them with salt and pepper and toss them to coat them with the oil and butter. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and cook about 20 minutes until tender but not mushy so they are still holding their shape. Remove the vegetables to a plate and keep warm. Turn the heat ups little and cook down the juices. Pour the juices over the vegetables. Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves and chopped parsley.