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2/18/2017 8:42 am  #1

Coq au vin

Coq au vin

What could be better on a cold night than braised chicken?

And learn this dish and you have mastered a french classic.
This recipe for coq au vin yields a supremely rich sauce filled with tender chicken, crisp bits of bacon, mushrooms and burnished pearl onions. Traditional versions call for a whole cut-up chicken, but using only dark meat gives you a particularly succulent dish. The crouton garnish adds a buttery crunch.

Yea, it requires some work, so why master it?
Braising chicken in wine is an age-old tradition, and a method used all over France. You brown the meat, add liquid to the pot, be it water, wine or stock, and then set it over low heat for a lengthy simmer. That initial browning creates the foundation of the sauce, lending complex layers of flavor to the final dish.

In a traditional coq au vin, which hails from the Burgundy region, wine is used both to tenderize what was traditionally a tough old rooster (a coq in French) and to imbue the meat with its heady flavor. When the bird is slowly simmered, often for hours and hours as the oldest recipes suggest, its sinewy flesh slackens, growing soft and aromatic, and easily yielding to the fork.

As the simmering wine seasons the chicken, the chicken seasons the wine, helping transform it into a savory sauce. The wine, which reduces as it cooks, also takes on the other flavors in the pot, in this case brandy, mushrooms, onions, bacon and herbs, along with the savory fond — that is, the caramelized bits on the bottom of the pan that you get from the initial browning of the chicken. The young, tender chickens of today cook more quickly than those earlier birds, but they are imbued with similar lusty flavors.

There are variations of coq au vin all over France, each a celebration of local wines both red and white. In Alsace, a dry riesling is used, resulting in a lighter, brighter sauce that is often enriched with a little cream or crème fraîche stirred in at the end. The Jura and the Champagne regions also have their own recipes; cooks in the Jura sometimes substitute morels for the more common white or brown button mushrooms. In Beaujolais, the young dark purple nouveau wine gives that dish the name coq au violet. But Burgundy’s version, made with its local wine, is the best known across France and all over the world.

No matter what kind of wine you pour into your pot, the method of simmering it with chicken or other meat is applicable across the kitchen. Case in point: Boeuf bourguignon, another French classic, is essentially coq au vin made with chunks of stewing beef instead of fowl. Mastering this one technique leads to many excellent dinners.

3 pounds chicken legs and thighs
2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more to taste
3 cups hearty red wine, preferably from Burgundy
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
4 ounces lardons, pancetta or bacon, diced into 1/4-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed
1 large onion, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
8 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
2 tablespoons brandy
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 ounces peeled pearl onions (about 12 to 15 onions)
 Pinch sugar
2 slices white bread, cut into triangles, crusts removed
¼ cup chopped parsley, more for serving

Season chicken with 2 1/4 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. In a large bowl, combine chicken, wine, bay leaf and thyme. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or, even better, overnight.
In a large Dutch oven or a heavy-bottomed pot with a tightfitting lid, cook lardons over medium-low heat until fat has rendered, and lardons are golden and crisp, 10 to 15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer lardons to a paper-towel-lined plate, leaving rendered fat in pot.

Remove chicken from wine, reserving the marinade. Pat chicken pieces with paper towels until very dry. Heat lardon fat over medium heat until it’s just about to smoke. Working in batches if necessary, add chicken in a single layer and cook until well browned, 3 to 5 minutes per side. (Add oil if the pot looks a little dry.) Transfer chicken to a plate as it browns.

Add diced onion, carrot, half the mushrooms and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt to pot. Cook until vegetables are lightly browned, about 8 minutes, stirring up any brown bits from the pot, and adjusting heat if necessary to prevent burning.

Stir in garlic and tomato paste and cook for 1 minute, then stir in flour and cook for another minute. Remove from heat, push vegetables to one side of pot, pour brandy into empty side, and ignite with a match. (If you’re too nervous to ignite it, just cook brandy down for 1 minute.) Once the flame dies down, add reserved marinade, bring to a boil, and reduce halfway (to 1 1/2 cups), about 12 minutes. Skim off any large pockets of foam that form on the surface.
Add chicken, any accumulated juices and half the cooked lardons to the pot. Cover and simmer over low heat for 1 hour, turning halfway through. Uncover pot and simmer for 15 minutes to thicken. Taste and add salt and pepper, if necessary.

Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter and 2 tablespoons oil in a nonstick or other large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pearl onions, a pinch of sugar and salt to taste. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes, shaking skillet often to move onions around. Uncover, push onions to one side of skillet, add remaining mushrooms, and raise heat to medium-high. Continue to cook until browned, stirring mushrooms frequently, and gently tossing onions occasionally, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove onions and mushrooms from skillet, and wipe it out.

In same skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat until bubbling. Add bread and toast on all sides until golden, about 2 minutes per side. (Adjust heat if needed to prevent burning.) Remove from skillet and sprinkle with salt.

To serve, dip croutons in wine sauce, then coat in parsley. Add pearl onions, mushrooms and remaining half of the
cooked lardons to the pot. Baste with wine sauce, sprinkle with parsley and serve with croutons on top.

An excellent step by step guide

Last edited by Goose (2/18/2017 8:49 am)

We live in a time in which decent and otherwise sensible people are surrendering too easily to the hectoring of morons or extremists. 

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