Thursday, January 10, 2013

Coq au Vin- Classic French!

I call it Coq au Vin but you could also call it an upscale chicken stew.  For this rustic chicken dish, I slowly braise my meat in red wine, rich homemade chicken broth and herbs.  Throw in mushrooms and onions and I have an amazing dish to serve with pasta or mashed potatoes.   Light the candles, start the music and pour the wine- dinner is on!  Oh! and send the children to grandma's.

This will serve 4 generously.

5     slices of bacon, chopped
4     lbs of bone-in, skin-on chicken breast and/or chicken thighs
2     onions (about 2 cups), diced large (or pearl onions)
10   oz mushrooms, quartered
2    garlic cloves, minced
1    tbsp tomato paste
2    tbsp all purpose flour
750 ml bottle of red wine (Pinot Noir, Côtes du Rhône...)
2 1/2 cups chicken broth (preferably homemade)
1    tsp fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried
2    bay leaves
2    tbsp butter, cut into two pieces and chilled
fresh parsley, minced, for garnish

Fry the bacon over medium heat in a large Dutch oven, about six minutes.  Remove the bacon to a paper towel, leaving behind the fat- you'll use the crispy bacon to garnish your dish before serving.  You should have two tablespoons of fat (if not, add olive oil to make up the difference).  Set aside.

Whole cut-up chicken
 Season the chicken with salt and pepper.  Set the pot on medium-high heat until the fat is hot and shimmering.  Brown the chicken on both sides, about seven minutes per side.  Do it in two batches if necessary and lower the heat if the chicken is scorching.  Transfer the chicken to a plate.

Browning the chicken

Pour off all but one tablespoon of fat in the pot.  Add the onions and the mushrooms and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about ten minutes.  Stir in the garlic and tomato paste and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in the flour and cook one minute.  Stir in the wine, chicken broth, thyme and bay leaves, scraping the bottom of the pan for any brown bits.

Replace the chicken, and its juices, into the pot and bring to a simmer.  Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the chicken is tender- about 20 minutes for chicken breasts and one hour for chicken thighs.  If using both cuts, begin by cooking the thighs and add the breasts after about 40 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a serving dish while you make the sauce.  Skim off as much fat as possible and return to a simmer until the sauce thickens and measures about two cups- about 20 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Remove the bay leaves.  Whisk in the butter and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Pour the sauce over the chicken, sprinkle with the reserved bacon and parsley.  Serve on a bed of buttered noodles or with mashed potatoes.  Don't forget the garlic bread for that special extra.

You could use a whole chicken, cut up into pieces.  Just be careful about cooking times for the parts.  Chicken breast meat goes into the pot last because it cooks faster and will dry up if cooked too long.

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