Coq au vin is one of those fantastic old French recipes that’s perfect for the holidays. It’s simple to prepare. In fact, I often make it a day or two in advance. It allows the chicken to really infuse with the flavors of onions, wine and herbs.
Various legends actually trace this recipe back to ancient Gaul and Julius Caesar. But it didn’t become popular in the US until the 1960’s when the great Julia Child prepared it on her TV show The French Chef.
I personally fell in love with this recipe after spending a Christmas in Paris. I had two unforgettable meals on that trip. One was in a small cafe that served the freshest oysters I have ever tasted. The other, a classic French bistro that made several variations fo coq au vin. My favorite was the classic version, made with Burgundy and bacon.
Serve this dish with buttery mashed potatoes and a hearty red wine.
Coq Au Vin
4 whole chicken legs
2 ounces bacon, diced
2 cloves garlic
One small onion, about 2 cups diced
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 carrots, chopped
1 pound cremini mushrooms, about 4 cups
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/4 cup red wine
¼ cup brandy
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1/2 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ cup Italian parsley, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Combine and melt the oil and butter in an oven proof baking dish (such as a Le Creuset pot). Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. Once the pan is warm, add the chicken legs. Don’t overcrowd the pan or they won’t brown. If you need to, brown two at a time. Cook the legs for about 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
Remove the chicken thighs from the pan. Add the bacon and cook until fragrant, about 5 minutes. While the bacon cooks, toss the flour and onions together in a bowl to evenly coat. Add them to the pan with the bacon. Add the chicken and other ingredients. Close the lid on the oven safe pan and place in the oven for 1 ½ hours.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes before opening. Carefully remove the lid so you don’t get a steam burn.
Serve the chicken with mashed potatoes, the carrots and mushrooms, and some of the sauce ladled on top. Sprinkle the minced parsley over the chicken.
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