Coq au Vin is one of those recipes that wannabe cooks feel like they have to master in order to take themselves somewhat seriously. Like learning to make a good boeuf bourguignon. And let’s not beat around the bush. To cook it properly takes hours. Because if I’m going to do it, and I don’t want to take the easy way out. So for recipes I’m going straight to the American Housewife’s French Cooking Bible aka Julia Childs “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”.
However, she was cooking a bazillion years ago and also had a proper kitchen. So my major updates are bolded and italicised. Feel free to embrace or ignore them! This is also one of the few recipes who’s steps I have numbered. I’ve done that just because there are so many of them!
Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Childs
A heavy, 10-inch, fireproof casserole
2 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 to 3 pounds cut-up frying chicken
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup cognac (I didn’t have any cognac on hand and I also didn’t want to go to the store- yes I am that lazy- so I used a dash of brandy instead. FYI cognac is just brandy from a specific region like Champagne vs sparkling white wine)
3 cups young, full-bodied red wine such as Burgundy, Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone or Chianti ( I used a Beaujolais)
1 to 2 cups brown chicken stock, brown stock or canned beef bouillon
1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
8 oz button mushrooms
12 to 24 brown-braised onions (recipe follows) (this seems to be a lot of effort but it is the tastiest part of the meal)
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons softened butter
Sprigs of fresh parsley
3. Dry the chicken thoroughly. Brown it in the hot fat in the casserole.
4. Season the chicken. Return the bacon to the casserole with the chicken. Cover and cook slowly for 10 minutes, turning the chicken once.
5. Uncover, and pour in the cognac. Averting your face, ignite the cognac with a lighted match. Shake the casserole back and forth for several seconds until the flames subside.( The flat is not very conducive to flambéing anything, can you say fire hazard, so I added a tad extra brandy and reduced the juices done to concentrate the flavors)
6. Pour the wine into the casserole. Add just enough stock or bouillon to cover the chicken. Stir in the tomato paste (I used a teaspoon instead of half), garlic and herbs. Bring to the simmer. Cover and simmer slowly for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and its juices run a clear yellow when the meat is pricked with a fork. During the last 15 minutes add in the mushrooms. Remove the chicken to a side dish. (The chicken looks the same color as liver on the outside when it’s done cooking, but inside it SHOULD NOT BE purple or pink at all!!!)
7. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms (recipe follows).
8. Simmer the chicken cooking liquid in the casserole for a minute or two, skimming off the fat. Then raise the heat and boil rapidly, reducing the liquid to about 2 1/4 cups. Correct seasoning. Remove from heat and discard bay leaf.
9. Blend the butter and flour together into a smooth paste (buerre manie). Beat the paste into the hot liquid with a wire whip. Bring to the simmer, stirring, and simmer for a minute or two. The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.
10. Arrange the chicken in the casserole, place the mushrooms and onions around it and baste with the sauce. If this dish is not to be served immediately, film the top of the sauce with stock or dot with small pieces of butter. Set aside uncovered. It can now wait indefinitely.
11. Shortly before serving, bring to the simmer, basting the chicken with the sauce. Cover and simmer slowly for 4 to 5 minutes, until the chicken is hot enough.
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons oil
A 9- to 10-inch enameled skillet
1/2 cup of brown stock, canned beef bouillon, dry white wine, red wine or water
Salt and pepper to taste
A medium herb bouquet: 3 parsley springs, 1/2 bay leaf, and 1/4 teaspoon thyme tied in cheesecloth