Servings: 4 Prep: 30 mins Cook: 2 hrs 30 mins Total: 3 hrs
Here’s a recipe that’s a bit of a departure for me. I’m not entirely sure why I chose to go this route with it, but … I did, and it’s done and I think the end result is really quite nice!
In this one, I used a few stranger-than-normal ingredients. For example, I used salted pork belly, instead of bacon. I used pearl onions, instead of onions. I used French Horn mushrooms, rather than a standard button mushroom. I used a specific red wine (Burgundy), rather than a “cooking” wine, etc. It also is just a hair over the normal 10 carb goal (at about 12 carbs per massive serving), but it’s also all good whole foods.
I think, for some reason, I wanted to respect the rustic and local origins of this famous and potentially ancient dish (served over 2000 years ago!). I simply didn’t want to mess with it! The one thing I DIDN’T do was source a big tough rooster or “cock” as the name of the dish would suggest. I used ingredients which were on the outskirts of what can be reasonably found, without stepping into the truly difficult. I’m sure a big retired rooster can be found, but I confess to not having a direct connection to one. If you happen to find a connection to a stringy old bird, go for it. That would take you that much closer to the real deal!
“Coq au Vin” simply means “Cock with Wine”, but in French. It’s a dish employing a cooking technique known as “braising”, which essentially means “cover and simmer in liquid”. Usually, the primary ingredient is seared and then placed in a pot with some flavorful liquids, then covered to hold in the heat and steam (moist heat). This particular cooking method does a great job of breaking down the tough and stringy connective tissues which would be found in the inexpensive retired male chickens found in the French marketplace, back in time … in history’s history. Today, most US cooks use female hens, which are fine and is what I did, but I’m still going to suggest you look for the largest “stewing” bird you can find. More mature birds are larger, serving more people and they tend to be cheaper (by weight). This historic method of utilizing and breaking down the cheap meat from the marketplace, or the old family rooster, is going to serve a big mature chicken quite well.
Thickening Note: Historically the sauce for this dish was thickened with flour or blood. For obvious reasons, we’ll be skipping the flour. Because I tend to find “thickening with blood” to be on the oogy side, I’m going to skip that, as well. I’ve gone with a slight twist, which is to quickly reduce the natural juices from the braising process, by boiling it, rapidly. This will cause a lot of the water to evaporate, leaving behind a rich jus, thickened with natural gelatin. When it starts to noticeably thicken on its own, I whisked in some fresh butter; adding good fats, moisture, flavor, thickening power and a bit of “sheen”.
Coq au VinPrint Rate
- 1 large (about 6 lbs.) chicken cut into 8 pieces
- 4 oz salt pork (or bacon) cut into cubes
- 1 lb mushrooms dirt removed with brush
- 16 each pearl onions peeled
- 2 large carrots peeled and cut into chunks
- 2 cup burgundy wine
- 4 each garlic cloves crushed
- 1 each celery rib cut into chunks
- 10 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 each bay leaf
- 1/4 cup whole butter cut into about 12 cubes
- salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
- Season your chicken with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Over medium heat, in a large sauté pan or skillet, brown your salt pork cubes (or bacon is a fine substitute). Cook until crispy and golden. Remove the pork from the skillet and place into a large pot with a lid, or Dutch oven.
- Quickly add your chicken to the hot pan, skin-side-down. Only add enough chicken to cover the bottom of the pan in a single, non-crowded layer. You may increase the heat to high. Sear the skin side of the chicken pieces until golden and then place on top of the pork, in the larger pot. Continue searing the chicken until it is all seared.
- In the same sauté pan/skillet, with the hot pork and chicken fat, add your mushrooms with a bit of salt and pepper. Cook until the edges brown a bit, then add to the pot with the chicken.
- In the same sauté pan/skillet add your pearl onions and carrots. Cook long enough to brown the outside of these two ingredients; about 5 minutes. Add to the pot with the chicken.
- Deglaze the hot sauté pan/skillet with your red wine. This will quickly boil, picking up flavor from the bottom of the pan. After about 1 minute, pour this warm mixture over the top of your chicken.
- To the chicken pot, add your garlic, celery, thyme and bay leaves. At this point, you can refrigerate the whole pot, as is, and let it marinate overnight. This is optional, but does develop more flavors.
- About 2 1/2 hours prior to dinner time, place the pot of chicken on the stove over medium heat. Bring to a very very low simmer, then adjust the heat to low, maintaining the super slow simmer. Allow to simmer for about 2 hours, or until the chicken is quite tender and tears easily.
- Strain the liquid out of the chicken, by either carefully pouring it out (using the lid, or a large spoon to hold back the chicken), or place a colander in a large bowl and dump the entire pot into the colander. Either way, put the chicken back into the pot and keep it warm.
- Place the braising liquid into a sauce pot and place over high heat to boil. Once the liquid has reduced by about half and has noticeably thickened, turn the heat down to very low and whisk a single cube of butter into the sauce. Keep whisking, so that the butter will emulsify into the sauce, thickening and enriching it, rather than simply melting and floating on the top, like an oil slick. Once the first cube of butter is about 75% melted, add a second cube of butter. Keep whisking. When the 2nd cube of butter is about 75% melted, add your 3rd cube of butter. Keep adding the butter in this manner, continually whisking, until your sauce is thick, shiny and luscious.
- Divide your chicken and vegetables between 4 plates or bowls and drizzle the sauce over each.
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