Coq au Vin





Because I live a long way away from my siblings (and lament it!), it’s always a special occasion when one of them comes to visit. Thomas, my youngest brother, was here just for a brief stay, so we put every hour here to good use and threw a French wine-tasting party with French food. Thomas taught us to note the acidity and tannins in the reds which place them in the North or South regions on France’s map. His blind taste test with the numerous wines was challenging, but he deemed us all winners in the end. (Who cares about your D- graded taste-buds when you get to drink a red from Châteauneuf-du-Pape!)

I made Coq au Vin, or Chicken in Wine, for dinner. Never having made it before, I thought it would as simple as Beef Burgundy: throw some meat and carrots and onions in a pot, dump a bunch of wine on it, and voila, dinner a couple hours later. But for some reason, it’s not that easy. I think it’s harder because the chicken can easily be over-cooked, and maybe the beef adds some thickening agent when cooked that chicken doesn’t? Whatever the case, fifteen minutes before our guests arrived, as I looked at my soupy muck, I almost ordered emergency pizzas instead. But is that what a French chef would do? Ah, non! So I added lots of corn starch, and it thickened right up.

We used our garden’s carrots, onions, parsley, rosemary, and a few shittakes from our last mushroom bloom. The only thing missing from our French evening was an actual French person. Hopefully next time Thomas’s French wife can attend. This recipe was amended from Ina Garten


4 oz. bacon, diced
1 medium chicken, skinned and cut in 8ths
3 large carrots, chopped
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 t garlic, chopped
1/4 c brandy
1/2 bottle cheep dry red wine such as Burgundy
1 c good chicken stock, preferably homemade
2 sprigs rosemary, chopped
2 T fresh parsley, chopped
2 T unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
1 1/2 T all-purpose flour
3 large shittake mushrooms, stems removed and thickly sliced


Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove the bacon to a plate with a slotted spoon. Meanwhile, lay the chicken out on paper towels and pat dry. Liberally sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. When the bacon is removed, brown the chicken pieces in batches in a single layer for about 5 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Remove the chicken to the plate with the bacon and continue to brown until all the chicken is done. Set aside.

Add the carrots, onions, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper to the pan and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the brandy and put the bacon, chicken, and any juices that collected on the plate into the pot. Add the wine, chicken stock, and thyme and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just not pink. Remove from the oven and place on top of the stove.

Mash 1 tablespoon of butter and the flour together and stir into the stew. In a medium saute pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and cook the mushrooms over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until browned. Add to the stew. Bring the stew to a simmer and cook for another hour. If the stew does not thicken (mine did not), add 1 T cornstarch to 3 T cold water in a small bowl, and mix together well. Add that to the hot liquid and stir in. Wait 5 minutes to see if it begins to thicken. If it didn’t, repeat. Serve with good French wine and good company.

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