Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Coq au Procrastina-Vin

I somehow got it in my head a while back that I really need to make some Coq au Vin, probably just because I like saying it and pretending I'm Julia Child: Coke oh Vahn. The Coq lost his crow and has been hanging out in my freezer, until finally last night, I thought, "I've got coq. I've got vin. Let's do this thing already."

It's a classic dish, characterized by the Coq (fresh rooster parts, or in many non-French-cottage-in-the-countryside cases, grocery store chicken), braised in the vin (usually red wine), and accompanied by an assortment of other ingredients: lardons (salt pork), mushrooms, pearl onions, mirepoix (carrots/celery/onion combo), thyme, bay leaves, etc, etc. There are endless recipes and variations, since each region of France simply must have their own version, as well as celebrity chefs. I did it my own way as well, partially because I hate following the rules (I thought about throwing in the pearl onions, but I just didn't feel like it), but mostly because I hate extra trips to the store if I don't have any, say, mushrooms, for example.

Recipe for last night's somewhat anti-Traditional Coq au Vin for 2:
  • Two legs of chicken
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of red wine
  • 3 pieces of thick-cut bacon, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 big carrot, peeled and sliced into bite-sized rounds
  • 3/4 cup of chicken stock
  • About 1/2 tsp of fresh thyme leaves (or 1/4 tsp dried)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Fresh parsley for garnish
  • Salt and pepper
  • A half stick of butter and about a 1/4 cup of flour on hand

In a dutch oven or large heavy pot, cook the bacon on medium-low heat for several minutes until done but not crispy, stirring occasionally. Move the bacon to a plate and set aside, but keep the fat in the pot. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and brown in the bacon fat until each side is golden, about 8-10 minutes. If the bottom starts looking dry, add some butter. There should be a shiny thin coat of fat across the bottom. Remove the chicken and place on the plate with the bacon. Next, cook the onions and carrots in the pot (adding a little more butter if necessary). Stir occasionally until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Add a rounded tablespoon of flour to coat the vegetables, and cook while stirring occasionally, until the flour has browned slightly. Deglaze the pot by pouring in the wine and stirring, scraping the browned bits off the bottom. Stir in the chicken stock, thyme, and add the bay leaf. Transfer the chicken and bacon back to the pot, also pouring any accumulated juices in as well. Increase the heat to high, and stir a few times - when the sauce reaches a rolling boil, turn down the heat for a gentle simmer, and cover the pot. Let the chicken simmer for about 30-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare a potato dish to serve with the chicken. The chicken will be tender and rich, so simple is best. Mashed or roasted potatoes are a good choice. Last night I went a little crazy and did individual gratins of Potatoes Dauphinoise, which is delicious and easy, but a little over-the-top paired with the rustic Coq au Vin.

After the chicken has finished simmering, remove the legs and prepare to serve to your liking. I pulled the meat off the bones so I could just spoon the sauce right over it, and not have to worry about picking it apart as we ate. To finish the sauce, taste it to see if you need to add any salt or pepper. Make a paste from equal parts flour and softened butter, and stir it in a little at a time until the sauce has thickened slightly. It shouldn't be too thick. If you want mushrooms and pearl onions, sautée them together separately in bacon fat and add them towards the end. Spoon the sauce and vegetables over the chicken, garnish with some fresh parsley, and enjoy. Don't forget the side of crusty bread to soak up the sauce.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

MMMMM comfort food. V, Ernie made a wonderful lamb stew tonight. I will send you the recipe. It has canellini beans and fennel in it. I need comfort food- I miss you and am looking at the 1st Christmas in 56 years not spent with Grandma. Believe it or not, it does make me feel better that you and Max will be together. I love you!