Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Coq au Vin

 Coq au vin is one of those classic dishes that I have wanted to add to my cooking repertoire for some time but have avoided out of fear that it would be a pain in the you know what to make.  I think I read about someone painstakingly peeling tiny pearl onions for coq au vin and it nearly put me off the dish for good; my fingers are not nearly nimble enough to easily peel pearl onions, nor do I have the patience to do so.  Fortunately, I recently discovered that supermarkets carry peeled, frozen pearl onions  for lazy and clumsy cooks like myself.  I decided to finally give coq au vin a try, and it really wasn't any more difficult than any other braises.  Feeling a bit lame for my use of frozen pearl onions, I've even decided to use fresh onions the next time I make the dish; and the next time will be soon because coq au vin is about the tastiest thing you can possibly do with plain old chicken.  Like most things when it comes to cooking, coq au vin taught me that there are few things that are beyond the home cook's reach (except maybe pheasant, but that's a whole 'nother story).  The below recipe is a mish mash of coq au vin recipes from Cook's Illustrated and Molly Stevens' All About Braising

Coq au Vin

  • 1 whole chicken, wings, legs, thighs, and breasts separated, giblets wing tips and back bone reserved 
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 lb bacon, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • flour for dredging
  • 5 1/2 tbsp tbsp butter
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp brandy
  • 1 bottle dry red wine, such as Beaujolais Villages
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp thyme leaves
  • 4 tbsp parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 10 oz frozen pearl onions (or blanched and peeled)
  • 3/4 lb cremini mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed and quartered
  1. Heat the oven to 325F. 
  2. Wash the chicken pieces and thoroughly dry them with paper towels.  Season them with salt and pepper and set aside.
  3. Place the bacon in a large Dutch oven and cook it over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until it is browned on the outside but not completely crispy.  Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set it aside on a plate.
  4. Dredge each chicken piece in flour, shaking off the excess.  
  5. Add 2 tbsp of butter to the bacon fat.  Once the butter has melted and has stopped foaming, add as many of the chicken pieces as will comfortably fit in the pan without overcrowding. Cook the chicken pieces until well browned on all sides, 4 to 5 minutes per side.  Remove the chicken to a plate and brown the remaining batches.
  6. Add another tbsp of butter to the Dutch oven and reduce the heat to medium.  Add the onion and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to brown, about 5 minutes.
  7. Add the tomato paste to the Dutch oven and stir well to so that it is well incorporated into the vegetables and fat. 
  8. Pour in the brandy and bring it to a boil. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to stir up any brown bits.  Continue to boil until almost all of the liquid has evaporate, about 2 minutes.
  9. Add the wine, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, and 2 tbsp parsley to the Dutch oven.  Bring to a boil and cook until the wine is reduced by half, about 12 to 15 minutes.  
  10. Return the bacon to the pan and pour in the stock.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer. Ladle out a half cup of the liquid into a cup for cooking the mushrooms and onions.  
  11. Add the chicken pieces, including the back, wing tips, and giblets, to the pan.  Add the pieces in layers.  
  12. Cover the Dutch oven and place it in the lower third of the oven. Braise it until the it is tender and cooked through, about an hour.  Flip the chicken pieces once or twice as they cook. 
  13. While the chicken braises, cook the onions and mushrooms.  Heat 1 tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions  and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the half cup of reserved braising liquid and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Cover the skillet and cook the onions, stirring them periodically, until they are tender, about 15 minutes.  Add 1 1/2 tbsp of butter to the pan and increase the heat to medium-high.  Once the butter stops foaming, add the mushrooms and season them with salt and pepper.  Cook the mushrooms and onions, stirring periodically, until they are browned and glazed with the braising liquid, about 10 minutes.  Remove them from the heat and set aside.
  14. Once the chicken is cooked, remove the chicken pieces from the Dutch oven and set them aside on a plate.  Discard the back, wing tips, and giblets.  
  15. Skim some of the fat from the braising liquid.  Bring the braising liquid to a boil and reduce it until it is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.  Reduce the heat to a simmer. 
  16. Stir the onion and mushroom mixture into the braising liquid.  Let the liquid simmer for about 5 minutes to let the flavors meld.  Taste for salt and pepper.
  17. Spoon the braising liquid over the chicken pieces and garnish them with the remaining chopped parsley.  Serve immediately. 



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