Sometimes French Food Really Is Fussy

Coq au vin (French for fowl in wine) is NOT a Monday night, after work, pull it together quickly recipe. In fact, it’s an “I’m not doing anything Saturday night and really have copious amounts of time on Sunday” sort of recipe. Yes, it is labor intensive. Yes, you should be able to take a whole chicken and break it into its edible components. Yes, if you’re not careful, you might scorch your kitchen wall. But, when done well, it’s a dish to behold—rich and complex, sopping up your sauce with bread.

This recipe comes courtesy of culinary school.

 Coq au Vin

  • 2-3 lb chicken or capon

Stock and Marinade

  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 small Spanish onion
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 4 gloves garlic
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • 1½ qts red wine
  • 2 qts chicken stock
  • 1 lb chicken bones, lightly browned
  • 1 T chopped shallots
  • 1½ oz brandy
  • 2 T canola oil
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 2 T flour
  • 2 T butter


  • 24 pearl onions
  • 3 T butter, divided
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1½ C white mushrooms
  • 5 oz salt pork (I used bacon)
  • 1 T chopped parsley

Cut chicken into eight pieces. (Getting a whole chicken and breaking it down is the best here. You will have two breasts, two legs, two thighs, and two wings—eight pieces. The left-over bones should be just enough for the browned bones section of the recipe. A beautiful use of the entire chicken!) Marinate in red wine for 24 hours, adding diced vegetables, garlic, and bouquet garni. Remove chicken and dry pieces in a paper towel. You’re going to get some freaky looking chicken… Just warning you, be prepared:

Wine Marinated Chicken

Raw, purple chicken... yum!

Strain the marinade. Sweat the vegetables, add tomato paste, garlic, and deglaze with red wine from the marinade. Add bouquet garni and reduce to syrupy consistency. Now add the 2 qts of chicken stock, the pound of chicken bones, and simmer for 45 minutes. (You should have about 1½ qts of red stock remaining.)

Heat oil in a large pot and brown chicken. Add shallots, sweat for one more minute, and sprinkle flour, stirring. Add brandy and light. Once flame has died down, add wine stock and season with salt and pepper. (OK, I’m skittish about lighting alcohol on my stove. [There was a rather scary incident in college involving flaming coffee.] You don’t really need to do this step if you have issues with flaming food. If you taste the chicken with fire brandy and sans fire brandy side-by-side, you will be able to taste the difference. The brandy adds a depth and complexity to the dish. But, it’s still a mighty fine chicken if you don’t feel like having a fire extinguisher at the ready when you make dinner.) Cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes, depending on size. (Can also be cooked in a 350° oven. Just make sure your pot is safe for the oven.)

While the chicken is simmering, peel and cook the pearl onions: Cover with water, season with salt and pepper, add a pinch of sugar and 1 T butter, and then simmer to evaporate the water. Cook to a brown color. Slice and sauté the mushrooms; let cool. Now, cut salt pork into lardoons. Blanche, pat them dry, and brown lightly; then let cool. (Here are my modifications: I did not add the onions as my husband is not a huge fan. I cooked the bacon and then used the fat to sauté the mushrooms. I then added a bit of garlic and some chopped thyme as the mushrooms are getting skinny in the hot pot. Crumbled the bacon and added it back to the mushrooms.)

When bird is cooked, lift out of sauce and place in pot suitable for serving. Add mushrooms, bacon, and onions. If sauce is not thick enough, bring back to a boil. Bind by stirring in mixed roux until sauce thickens. Wisk in 2 T butter. Strain sauce over chicken; add some chopped parsley. Can be served with pasta or with boiled or mashed potatoes.


So, after all that time and effort, I overcooked the chicken. I cooked it appropriately, but instead of creating the sauce right away and putting it out to serve, I let it sit in liquid while we had our soup course. Ooops, this added time really dried out the bird—especially the breasts. I was a bit pissed at myself for the rookie mistake. (Damn you, carry over heating, damn you!)

Coq au Vin

I served it with the Madras potato recipe I have previously made, but the excessive sauce makes it perfect for mashed potatoes. (I took the picture before I added the extra sauce.)


, , , ,

  1. #1 by Vickie on 9.21.2011 - 8:35 pm

    Boo… while I always derive an excessive amount of enjoyment over each and every one of your recipe posts, I especially like when I have a chance of being able to recreate the concoction. Curse your culinary school expertise!

    • #2 by e.marie on 9.22.2011 - 3:03 pm

      but, it was miserably dry… so much for my expertise!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: