When the stress of a move, the worst cold I’ve had in years, and a dreary weather spell threatened to squash my entire spring spirit I knew there was only one cure: comfort food.
So for the first meal in our new place, I turned to one of my favorite Burgundian classics for a little bit of country style coziness: my Cozy Coq au Vin.
Now I’ve done Coq au Vin countless different ways- on the stove, in the oven, in an 8 hour slow cooker. I’ve marinated overnight, over two nights, meticulously followed Julia Child’s version and Ina Garten’s quick method- you name it, I’ve tried it. But after all these variations this is how I really like to eat it.
Let’s break it down:
I like to butcher my own chicken for a ton of reasons, but it’s perfectly sane to purchase one that is already broken down into serving pieces for you. However, if you want the backbone and neck for stock you are going to want to do it yourself. Here’s a great guide from Bon Appetit that shows how to do it.
I like to leave a bit of the breast on the wing pieces as shown in the slideshow:
I also use tooth picks to secure the skin around the meat for presentation purposes (if you do this, remove the tooth picks once seared and cooked).
Use thick cut bacon or a thick slab to create your lardons. I used black forest uncured unsmoked bacon and did not need to boil the bacon in water before cooking. This is done to reduce the salt and nitrate content on some bacons, very much like cured meats sometimes need to be soaked. Don’t forget to remove the rind though.
The Holy Trinity
Mirepoix, Sofritto, or Onion, Carrot, Celery. The brunoise direction in the recipe is a chefy trick for presentation purposes, and perfectly even cooking. In this recipe feel free to chop the vegetables roughly and just think small enough to enjoy eating. After all it’s originally a rustic dish.
A Bouquet Garnis add depth and flavor to the sauce and cooking liquids. The herbs can be easily thrown in without a cheese cloth, but the bay leaf, peppercorns, juniper berries, and cloves you will want to be sure to discard after cooking and before serving so wrapping those will be important.
Skim, Thicken, and Season
When the chicken has cooked you may notice excess oil on the surface, simply skim this off and remove the chicken. Reducing at a high heat will create a good sauce consistency as it reduces and concentrate and trap the flavor.
To the Fabulous Fungi
Wild mushrooms this time of year are such a luxury. Worth every penny, and if cooked properly could easily replace the chicken as the star of the dish. Make sure to brush all grit from them, and cook them fast on high heat to retain all their flavor.
Too slow or too low and they will begin to sweat out and stew in their own water. Remember they are essentially sponges so don’t rinse or soak them.
All be it a cheesy chef and wife addition, the brioche is perfect for soaking up excess sauce and the addition of a little fresh parsley really brightens the flavors that have been a sleep in a hot pot.
Cozy Coq au Vin
1 organic free-range chicken (ranging from 3-5 lbs), cut into 8 serving pieces
4 ounces thick slab bacon, (enough for aprox. 7 lardons per person)
4 large carrots, brunoise or small square dice
2 celery, brunoise
1/2 yellow or 1 small white onion, brunoise
1-1.5 teaspoon tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 bouquet garnis
(2 sprigs thyme, 1 bay leaf, 2 parsley stalks, celery leaf) +
4 juniper berries
5 white pepper corns, cracked
¼ cup cognac, good brandy or port (optional)
2/3 bottle French Pinot Noir preferably a Cote de Beaune from Burgundy (aprox. 500 ml)
2 cups homemade brown chicken stock (light chicken stock or beef stock can be substituted)
1 tablespoon softened butter
1 tablespoon flour
Cracked Black Pepper
Sautéed Wild Mushrooms
2 handfuls Chanterelles
2 handfuls Hen of the Wood
8-10 white button mushrooms, quartered
10 cremini mushrooms, sliced
3 teaspoons butter, separated
3 teaspoon oil, (olive or vegeteable)
1 lemon, halved
4 sliced brioche
1 bunch parsley, fine chop
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (if using)
1. Breakdown chicken into 8 serving pieces.
2. Using a paper towel, pat dry and season the chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Set aside.
3. Remove rind from bacon, and cut into serving friendly size lardons (3/4 inch long, 1/4 inch wide)
4. In a large casserole, saute lardons on medium high heat till crisp and caramelized. Set bacon aside, leaving the rendered fat in the pan.
5. Saute chicken in a single layer in rendered fat until golden on all sides. Make sure not to crowd the pot and add a little olive oil if pan is too dry. Set chicken aside.
6. Return pan to medium high heat making sure to drain off any excess fat or oil. Place onions, carrots, and celery in pot to caramelize and soften. Once vegetables are colored, add shallot and garlic and bouquet garnis. Saute for 1 minute or until shallots and garlic turn translucent being careful to not let them brown.
7. Add tomato paste. Stir and cook for 1 minute.
8. Deglaze with cognac or, if not using, with a 1/4 cup of the red wine, stirring up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Let almost completely reduce, then immediately add wine and reduce for just under a minute. Add stock and bring to a boil.
9. Reduce heat to simmer and return the chicken to the pot and cover with a heavy tight fitting lid- or in a pinch aluminum foil will work.
10. You have some options now.
(A) Continue on the stove, leaving the chicken to cook at a very slow simmer for aprox. an hour or until very tender. Remove the chicken and keep warm, covered.
(B) Place in a 250 degree F (120 C) oven for an hour. The meat should be very tender, carefully remove chicken, cover and keep warm on side.
11. Return pot to high/medium high heat. Skim off any excess oil on the surface, remove bouquet garnis, and reduce cooking liquid for about 10 minutes to concentrate and thicken. Combine 1 teaspoon softened butter and flour to form a paste. Add to the reduced liquid and whisk to cook out the flour. Let thicken and taste. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm.
12. Return chicken to sauce to re-warm.
For the pasta
Bring a large pot of water to boil, adding ample salt and a tablespoon of oil. Cook pasta al dente. Drain to a bowl adding oil and several spoons of pasta water. Cover tightly and keep warm.
For the mushrooms
1. Brush chanterelles and hen of the wood mushrooms clean.
2. In three batches, saute white button mushroom, cremini, and chanterelles with hen of the wood on high using 1 teaspoon of butter and oil and a squeeze of lemon juice per batch. Season with salt as soon as the mushrooms hit the pan. Cook through and caramelize. Pour white button and cremini mushrooms into sauce, reserving chanterelles and hen of the wood for garnishing.
For the brioche
1. Using a heart cookie cutter, cut out 2 hearts per person from brioche slices. Toast hearts in dry skillet on med high heat for less 1 minute per side. Keep warm or reheat before serving.
2. Before serving dip 1 edge of each heart in olive or vegetable oil and then immediately dip the same edge into chopped parsley.
Layer chicken and sauce over pasta in a large shallow bowl or plate. Garnish with chanterelles and hen of the wood mushrooms, and bacon lardons. Top with brioche hearts.
Coq au Vin is often best when cooked and left overnight in the fridge. To best accomplish this, follow to step 12, cook only the white button and cremini mushrooms, and let the entire pot cool to room temperature before refrigerating covered overnight. Prepare all other garnish before point of service.
PS- I used to live in an apartment with just a stove top and fridge, and trust me this recipe is just as good when prepared without an oven.