T's Coq au Vin
© TPH & llizard aka ejm 1996,2000,2001
T devised this recipe after our senses were inundated at the Dijon weekly market while bicycling in Burgundy in 1996 and wrote this up for our friends, who were suitably amazed by this wonderful dish:
6 - 8 skinless chicken pieces
(I use chicken thighs 'cause I think they give the best texture)
1 large onion, diced
¼ cup olive oil
(just use what you think you need - I just throw some in the pan.)
½ to ¾ teaspoon of thyme
salt and pepper
2 to 4 Tbsp all-purpose flour
(again - it's your call)
1 teaspoon of sugar
(more about this later)
2 whole carrots
(or cut them in half if you prefer)
4 - 6 cloves of garlic
1 *whole* bottle dry red wine
(being a dish from the region of Burgundy, they use local red
Burgundy. Wines made from Pinot Noir - the grape variety local
to the region-are very expensive. I use a Cabernet Sauvignon
from Chile that costs about $8.00. Whatever you use try to make
it a decent wine. It's just better.)
Make sure the skin is off the chicken. Add salt and pepper to the flour and coat the chicken pieces. Reserve whatever flour is left over. In a large frying pan and over Med-High heat brown the chicken pieces in olive oil to a kind of light golden color. Set chicken pieces aside, then sauté onions in leftover oil, then throw in the minced garlic so that they all cook to a light golden color at the same time. Put in the rest of the reserved flour just as the onions and garlic are done. (The idea is to try and coat the flour with as much oil as possible to stop it from globbing in the stew - if it gets a bit gummy in the frying pan, don't worry. Don't add more oil. It isn't necessary)
Place everything *except the sugar* into a large pot and cover with the wine. You can clean out the frying pan with some of the wine before throwing it all in the pot.
Cook the chicken covered ½ to ¾ of an hour so that the chicken is just above a simmer. (A very light bubble) Then remove the cover and cook for another ½ to ¾ of an hour. When done the chicken should be just on the verge of wanting to fall off the bone. (That's probably more for chicken thighs, than for breasts) *Take out the carrot - it was just there for flavour.* At this point, if your sauce has not reduced to about 1/3 of it's original volume, take out the chicken and finish the sauce. The sauce should be silky - and thick enough to coat a spoon. Taste - and season further with salt and pepper and more thyme if needed. I sometimes throw in a little Cognac or Brandy to beef it up if I am in the mood. When done add the chicken again.
I cook this in the morning and let it sit on the kitchen counter until it's time for dinner then re-heat it. This allows time for the flavours to meld. I usually serve with baked potatoes and a vegetable.
A word about the sugar; I always add a little to this recipe. The wine can become quite tart. But it's up to you. Add a little - then taste and add some more if you think you need it. Tasting and adjusting is everything. It lets me off the hook if you don't like what you've prepared.
The French often use LARDONS in much of their cooking. Lardons are small pieces of cubed very smoky bacon. The idea here is that they render the fat out of the lardons and use it to brown onions or chicken or whatever. In this recipe I *have* used lardons and it does add a kind of smoky complexity, which is very good, however it also adds a lot of cholesterol. The last two times I made it I used a good olive oil and, while I noticed a difference, it was very good. I think I'll probably use olive oil most the time from here on in.
We saw this being cooked in an outdoor market in Dijon (in Burgundy). The smell was amazing and I have taken my cues from there. I *never* cook from a recipe so I'm winging this a bit with regard to exact measurements. I taste and adjust all the time. This may differ from many French recipes - it is purely my own. As an assurance we ate Coq au Vin on many occasions in France. This is as good or better than any.
I can attest to the fact that this dish is absolutely superb. Serve it with boiled potatoes and green beans. Your dining guests will be in heaven and your neighbours will be envious.