Saturday, November 16, 2013

Coq-au-vin (French red wine chicken stew)

This is such a great recipe to have in your repertoire! Not only is the dish visually beautiful, it is also the perfect comfort food, Sunday family lunch, dinner party with friends or romantic dinner for two.

Traditionally, it is prepared with a rooster but nowadays it is very common to use chicken instead. It is a very economical recipe: chicken thighs are very often on sale, carrots and onions are super cheap. To be honest this whole thing barely cost me 30 dollars, including the wine and cognac and I'll be eating this for at least 4 meals. It freezes really well, so don't hesitate to make a large batch and freeze portions for future lazy days ;)

The meat falls off the bone and the sauce is buttery, smooth and so tasty!

Coq-au-vin never fails to impress. Try it, and see for yourself :)

INGREDIENTS (6-8 people, 4 people with seconds, 2 people with lots of leftovers)
- 8 chicken thighs, skin on, bone in
- 8 oz button mushrooms bucket
- 1 cup of frozen pearl onions
- 1/2 cup diced smoked uncured bacon (try to avoid strong flavored bacon like maple-glazed)
- 4 long carrots (or just as many as you want in your final dish, I like mine fairly carrotty!)
- 4 plump garlic cloves
- 3 small bay leaves (or 1 big)
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme (dried works fine too)
- 1 medium onion, studded with 1 clove
- 3 tbsp butter (you can't see it behind the onion!)
- 1/3 cup AP flour
- 1 bottle red wine (if possible use a Burgundy wine, but any red should work fine: I used a Merlot)
- splash of cognac (I used 5cl, or a sample bottle of Hennessy)

- in a dutch oven, saute the bacon in the melted butter, add the thickly sliced mushrooms and the pearl onions and cook for 5 minutes over high heat until golden

- reserve in a bowl for later use and keep the butter and bacon fat in the pan
- in the same pan, brown the chicken pieces over medium-high heat, working in batches

- when the chicken pieces are golden, put them all back in the pan, sprinkle the flour and make sure they are well coated

- flambé the chicken with the cognac

Note: be VERY careful when you flambé! Make sure to tie your hair, tuck all fly-aways, clear any flammable items from your working area like dish rags, paper towels, etc... Do not lean over the pan and shut down the fume hoods. 
- when the flames go out, you can add the remaining ingredients: studded onion, carrots (cut in 1 inch segments), bay leaves, thyme, garlic and wine

- bring back to a boil, cover and simmer for 1 hour and 40 minutes over very low heat

- after 1h40, add the mushroom, pearl onions and bacon back into the pan, stir and cook for another 20 minutes covered over very low heat, until the sauce is thick, creamy, wonderfully flavored and the chicken falls off the bone

Note: in the traditionnal recipe, it is customary to thicken the sauce with the pureed liver and blood of the chicken (or rooster, really), but you can really do without. The fact that we make a roux (butter,  flour and liquid) at the beginning of the recipe makes the sauce silky smooth and thick.
- serve over a bed of fresh tagliatelle, slathered in butter and enjoy with a nice glass of red wine.

- Bon appétit!

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