Are you craving a heartwarming, indulgent meal that brings the quaint charm of French cuisine right to your table? Then look no further than Coq au Vin, a classic dish that can transform a simple chicken dinner into a culinary delight. The name, translated from French, literally means "rooster in wine", reflecting the age-old practice of using roosters past their prime, slow cooked in wine to tenderize the meat. However, today we use chicken, slow cooked in a beautiful wine sauce, for this iconic dish.
1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces or 8 chicken thighs
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
200g (7 oz) bacon or pancetta, chopped into small pieces (this is optional)
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 bottle (750 ml) red wine, preferably Burgundy or Pinot Noir
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
200g (7 oz) button mushrooms, quartered
Small bunch of parsley, chopped
- Season the chicken: Generously sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of the chicken pieces.
- Brown the chicken: Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces, skin side down, and sear until golden brown, about 4-5 minutes per side. You may need to do this in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. Remove the chicken and set aside.
- Cook the bacon: In the same pot, add the chopped bacon or pancetta and cook until crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat in the pot.
- Sauté the vegetables: In the bacon fat, add the onions, carrots, and garlic. Sauté until the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add flour: Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables, stirring to coat them evenly. Continue to cook for another minute to remove the raw flour taste.
- Deglaze with wine: Pour in the wine, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. This is where the sauce gets its rich, deep flavor.
- Add remaining ingredients: Return the chicken and bacon to the pot. Add in the chicken stock, tomato paste, thyme, and bay leaves. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then lower the heat, cover the pot, and let it simmer for about 2 hours.
- Cook the mushrooms: In the last half hour of cooking, sauté the mushrooms in a separate pan with a little bit of butter until they're golden and crispy. Then, add them to the pot.
- Garnish and serve: After 2 hours, the chicken should be tender and the sauce rich and flavorful. Discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve your Coq au Vin over mashed potatoes, rice, or with a side of crusty bread to soak up the delicious sauce.
That's it! You've made a classic French Coq au Vin. It may be a little time-consuming, but the result is worth every moment spent. The flavors of the chicken, wine, and herbs meld together beautifully to create a deep, rich, comforting dish that will impress any dinner guest. Plus, as with many stews and braises, it often tastes even better the next day, making it perfect for leftovers.