Coq au vin is a peasant recipe, As Anthony Bourdain has said "Coq au vin is an old, tough bird you have to drown in wine to get it to taste good. That'll be $28.95 please."
This it one of those recipes that is deceptively hard, with a little prep work it is easy as pie, maybe even easier. The secret is the mise en place. do it all ahead stuff it in the fridge and throw it all together when you are ready.
Coq au vin
from the Les Halles Cookbook, by Anthony Bourdain, Serves 4
1 bottle plus 1 cup of red wine
1 onion, cut into a 1-inch dice
1 carrot, cut into ¼-inch slices
1 celery rib, cut into ½ inch slices
4 whole cloves
1 tbs whole black peppercorns
1 bouquet garni
1 whole chicken, “trimmed” – wing tips and neckbone removed
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbs olive oil
6 tbs butter, softened
1 tbs flour
¼ lb lardons
½ lb small, white button mushrooms, stems removed
12 pearl onions, peeled
pinch of sugar
The day before you even begin to cook, combine the bottle of red wine, the diced onion (that’s the big onion, not the pearl onions), sliced carrots, celery, cloves, peppercorns, and bouquet garni in a large deep bowl. Add the chicken and submerge it in the liquid so that all of it is covered. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat it dry. Put it aside. Strain the marinade through the fine strainer, reserving the liquids and solids separately. Season the chicken with salt and pepper inside and out. In the large Dutch oven, heat the oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter until almost smoking, and then sear the chicken, turning it with the tongs to evenly brown it. Once browned, it should be removed from the pot and set it aside again. Add the reserved onions, celery, and carrot to the pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and golden brown. That should take about 10 minutes.
Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and mix well with the wooden spoon so that the vegetables are coated. Now stir in the reserved strained marinade. Put the chicken back in the pot, along with the bouquet garni. Cook this for about 1 hour and 15 minutes over low heat.
While your chicken stews slowly in the pot, cook the bacon lardons in the small sauté pan over medium heat until golden brown. Remove the bacon from the pan and drain it on paper towels, making sure to keep about 1 tablespoon of fat in the pan. Saute the mushroom tops in the bacon fat until golden brown. Set them aside.
Now, in the small saucepan, combine the pearl onions, the pinch of sugar, a pinch of salt, and 2 tablespoons of butter. Add just enough water to just cover the onions; then cover the pan with the parchment paper trimmed to the same size of the pan. (I suppose you can use foil if you must.) Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until the water has evaporated. Keep a close eye on it. Remove the paper cover and continue to cook until the onions are golden brown. Set the onions aside and add the remaining cup of red wine along with salt and pepper and reduce over medium-high heat until thick enough to coat the back of the spoon.
When the chicken is cooked through – meaning tender, the juice from the thigh running clear when pricked – carefully remove from the liquid, cut into quarters, and arrange on the deep serving platter. Strain the cooking liquid (again) into the reduced red wine. Now just add the bacon, mushrooms, and pearl onions, adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, and swirl in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Now pour that sauce over the chicken and dazzle your friends with your brilliance. Serve with buttered noodles and a Bourgone Rouge.
1. An old bird is best, hard to find though. Ideally you are looking for a stew chicken or an old rooster, I recommend a Kosher or Halal meat market (remember they have no pork though).
2. Bouquet garni is a bundle of herbs usually tied together with string, most recipes include parsley, thyme and bay leaf
3. Lardon may refer to different pork products cut from a pig's belly and used for larding in French cuisine. In this case you are looking for slab or country bacon, cut into small oblongs (lardons) about ¼ by 1 inch. I used salt pork, which did not smell like bacon cooking but tasted pretty good. Either way a good thick bacon with alot of nice fat and not alot of additives is what you are looking for.
4. the wine should be red, other than that pick what suits your pallet and wallet. But here is a helpful guide as well, Wine With...Coq au Vin
This was alot easier then I expected, it was also very good. Next time I would use chicken parts rather than the whole chicken just to make life easier. I would also make sure I had some nice crusty bread handy.
Truthfully The combination of mushrooms, pearl onions and bacon is hard to beat for me no matter what you do with it. And this was an excellent application, it was even better the second day. Definitely on my do again list, I just wish finding old chickens was easier.