10 November 2011

Coq au vin

We have family visiting our new abode in the Boston metro area. And for dinner, we needed something delicious. Relatively low effort. And comfort foody. Foodish. Foodly. Right.

Braised chicken fits the bill. Coq au vin, to be precise. French for rooster in wine, this is a rich, tasty preparation of chicken. I prepare it here with chicken thighs, as I simply don't know where to get a rooster. It's a good way to break down an older rooster. Much like bbq, braising softens tough cuts of meat.

I used the recipe from James Peterson's Meat:
8 large chicken thighs
1 bottle dry red wine
1 onion, sliced
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
bouquet garni (thyme, rosemary and parsley)
¾ pound thick-cut bacon
1 ¼ pounds mushrooms
2 10 oz packages pearl onions, blanched
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
red wine vinegar

I chose a Côtes du Rhône for the marinade.


I marinated the chicken for four hours in the wine, onions, carrots, garlic and bouquet garni. Here's the obligatory shot of raw chicken in marinade. Avert your eyes. You've been warned. Raw chicken does not photograph well.

Raw chicken

Chop the bacon into large chunks. Fry over medium heat until crisp.


Fish out the bacon bits and set aside. Retrieve the chicken from the marinade and pat dry. Fry in the bacon grease over medium heat until nicely browned all over. A few minutes on each side.

Browning chicken

Place the browned chicken back into the marinade.


Heat over medium heat until the liquid starts to boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for three hours.

During the cooking, remove a quarter cup of broth. In a separate covered pot, steam the mushrooms in the broth for twelve minutes until mostly cooked. Remove the mushrooms and cool.

Steamed mushrooms

Return the remaining broth to the chicken pot.

Remove another quarter cup of broth. Steam the blanched pearl onions until softened, about fifteen minutes.


Reomve the onions and set aside. Return remaining broth to the chicken pot.

Continue to cook until done, approximately three hours, until chicken accepts a knife easily. Go ahead. Stab it. When done, remove the chicken from the broth, and cover to keep it hot. Pour the remaining broth through a fine sieve. Heat until it is reduced to about one and a half cups.

Meanwhile, mix the butter and flour into a fine paste.

Beurre manié

This is called a beurre manié, and is for thickening sauces. Add to the broth, a bit at a time, stirring, until the broth reaches a nice saucy consistency. I used about ¾ of it to thicken the sauce. Continue cooking the sauce a few minutes to eliminate the raw flour flavour. Season with salt, pepper and red wine vinegar to taste.


Assemble the coq au vin. Place the mushrooms, bacon and onions on top of a piece of chicken. Drizzle liberally with sauce. And serve.

Coq au vin

The chicken will be stained internally with a nice red colour. And the flavour is very comforting. Warm and juicy on a cold day, this is good stuff.


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