Fast-forward ten or twenty years to last year and picture me at Daniel Boulud's restaurant, Bar Boulud. I've adored each and every meal I've had at Boulud's restaurants so, when I saw the Coq au Vin on the menu, I risked it. It was a transporting experience. Coq au vin is basically chicken stewed in red wine, not dissimilar to boef bourguignon, served over either pasta or mashed potatoes or even spaetzle. I don't remember what Boulud served it with, but his Coq au Vin was succulent and juicy and the sauce was not really a sauce, but a deep, thick and flavorful liquor. I dream about it sometimes.
Well, over the holidays, baby girl's grandma (or Amma) offered to watch her while the hubby and I went to see Up in the Air. We had a little time to kill beforehand so we stopped into the Barnes & Noble and, of course, I was immediately drawn to the cookbook section and then to Anne Willan's The Country Cooking of France. My father always revered her book, La Varenne Pratique so I knew I was in good hands. I somehow opened to the page where she describes Coq au Vin and then her recipe for it and I committed what I could to memory before being dragged off to the enjoyable, but somewhat boring (sorry critics!), Up in the Air.
I made it this past week and it was really amazing, not transporting like Boulud's but really really good. I think I might even add more red wine next time!
Coq au Vin
(This recipe requires a time commitment, not in terms of active kitchen work but, to really get the deep flavor, the chicken needs to marinate in the fridge for two days. Willan suggests 3 or 4, but I just couldn't do that!)
What You'll Need:
1 Onion cut into quarters
1 Carrot cut in half lengthwise
2 Celery stalks
1 Garlic Clove peeled
1 tsp Peppercorns
1 Bottle of Red Wine (I used a French Pinot Noir)
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 Whole Chicken cut up into breasts, thighs, wings and drumsticks
6 oz Bacon
3 tbsp Flour
2 cups Chicken Broth
2 Shallots chopped
2 Garlic Cloves minced
1 Bouquet Garnis (Mine was compose of several sprigs of parsley, thyme and 2 bay leaves)
1 lb Cremini Mushrooms sliced
1 lb pearl onions peeled
Parsley for garnish
Into a stock pot, pour the wine and add the onion, celery, garlic and carrot and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, simmer for a minute or two and then turn off the heat and let the marinade cool.
Place the chicken in one layer in a large baking dish and pour the marinade overtop and then the olive oil. Gently press down the chicken to get as much of it submerged as possible. Cover the dish and place it in the refrigerator to marinate. Check on it every 12 hours for two days and flip the chicken each time. You'll find it turns a deep purple!
About three hours before you plan on eating, Preheat the oven to 325 and set a large dutch oven over a medium high heat. Remove the chicken from the fridge and then from the marinade (don't discard the marinade!!). Pat the chicken dry and then put it in the dutch oven and brown it on all side. Remove the chicken and set aside. Meanwhile, strain the marinade, saving the liquid and discarding the vegetables.
Once the chicken is browned and removed, add the bacon to the dutch oven and cook until almost crispy. Pour off most of the bacon fat and add the shallot and garlic. Once they are softened, add the marinade and bring to a boil. Turn it down to a simmer and reduce by half. In a separate bowl, mix the flour and a bit of broth into a slurry and then, while whisking quite vigorously, slowly add the flour mixture to the red wine. Mix in the chicken stock. Once well mixed, place the chicken in the dutch oven in one layer and nestle the bouquet garnis in there. Cover it and cook in the oven for about 2 hours or until the chicken is tender.
About 20 minutes before you want to eat, set a saute pan over a medium high heat and add a pat of butter or a splash of olive oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add the pearl onions. When they begin to soften add the mushrooms and cook together until the mushrooms have given up their water. Remove from the heat.
To serve, place the chicken atop some spaetzle (recipe to come!), mashed potatoes or buttered noodles
Approximate Dinner Cost:
Cost per Meal: We got about 6 servings out of this meal at $5 each!