Coq Au Vin sounds fancy but it really is the most traditional French comfort food. It's chicken in a red wine sauce that cooks for a couple of hours that gets topped with the cutest little toast crouton you've ever seen. I had some friends over last night (the husband is French) and I really wanted to blow the doors off the meal. The first thing he said to me when he walked in was:
"I haven't smelled those smells since I left France"
First of all, this recipe is NOT a quick, weeknight, for-the-family recipe. This is for one of those days when you have a day (or two) and people coming over. I do recommend marinating the chicken and prepping all the ingredients the day before to cut down time on the day of the dinner. Some would also say to cook the whole thing the day before to really maximize the flavors but I really don't like cooking chicken a day in advance and reheating it the next day.
This is another great opportunity to test your palette while you are seasoning the dish. Does it need more salt? Does it need more pepper? Does it need to be a little sweeter? Add a little extra brandy. Know what I mean?
Coq Au Vin (inspired by the NY Times)
- 3 pounds chicken legs and thighs
- Salt and Pepper
- 3 cups hearty red wine, (I used Pinot)
- 2 cups chicken stock(preferably homemade)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 4 ounces (about 1 cup) lardons
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
- 16 ounces white or brown mushrooms, halved if large, and sliced (about 4 cups)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, then 5 tablespoons.
- 4 tablespoons brandy
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 8 ounces peeled pearl onions (about 12 to 15 onions)
- Pinch sugar
- 3 slices white bread, cut into triangles, crusts removed
- ¼ cup chopped parsley, more for serving
1. Season Chicken with Salt and Pepper and place Chicken, Wine, Bay Leaf, and Thyme into a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours and a maximum of overnight.
2. Add a bit of olive oil to a dutch oven, cook the lardons until they are browned and the fat is rendered, about 10 minutes. Don't be afraid to pull some of the bacon if it's done and leave the rest to keep rendering. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with a paper towel.
3. Remove the chicken from the marinade and set the marinade aside to use later. Pat the chicken dry and dredge it in the 5 tablespoons of flour that you've seasoned with salt(you can use a plate or a pie plate for this). Shake off as much flour as possible and brown the chicken in batches(about 3-5 mins per side) on medium heat. Don't do it all at once or you risk steaming it. Add more olive oil if the pan gets dry. Move the chicken to a plate when it's done browning. You're not trying to cook it through, just brown.
4. Add the onion, carrot, and half the mushrooms to the pot. Season with a pinch of salt and cook until the veggies are lightly browned. About 8 minutes. Make sure to keep an eye on the heat so they don't burn.
5. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Add the remaining tablespoon of flour and cook for another minute. Push the veg to one side of the pot and add the brandy. At this point you can EITHER light the brandy on fire OR cook it down for two more minutes(whichever you are more comfortable with...I did fire because...well...fire). Once the flame dies down, add the reserved wine marinade along with the chicken stock, set to boil, and reduce by half (takes about 10 minutes). Skim off any foam.
6. Add the chicken, half the lardons, and the chicken juices off the plate back to the pot. Cover and simmer on low heat for 1 hour. Remove the lid for the last 15 minutes to thicken the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
7. While the chicken is cooking, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil in a pan(I used my cast iron for this) and add the pearl onions with a pinch of sugar and salt and cover. Cook about 15 minutes until browned shaking the pan often(I really had fun with this...it made me feel pro). Push the onions to one side and add the mushrooms. Don't touch them for a couple of minutes so the mushrooms brown. Toss occasionally and cook for about 6 minutes.
8. Wipe the skillet clean and add 1 tablespoon butter with one tablespoon of oil. Add toast and brown (about 2 minutes per side). Remove to a plate and sprinkle with salt.
9. If the sauce isn't thick enough (it should be thicker than a soup but thinner than a gravy), remove the chicken again, take the pot off the heat and make a slurry with one tablespoon cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of cold water. Add the slurry to the pot and bring back to a boil for a sec. This should thicken it up nicely.
10. To serve, place a piece of chicken in a bowl (I like low-pro pasta bowls for this dish), top with some of the sauce (get all those veggies in there), take one of your cute little crouton toasts, dip it in the sauce in the pot, sprinkle the dish and the toast with parsley and put the crouton on top (see my pic on IG).