Some culinary pearls of wisdom on the French dish Coq au Vin from the wonderfully foul-mouthed, speaks his mind American chef and food writer, Anthony Bourdain-
“Another easy dish that looks like it is hard. It is not in fact, this is the kind of dish you might enjoy spending a leisurely afternoon with. There are plenty of opportunities for breaks. It’s durable, delicious, and the perfect illustration of the principles of turning something big and tough and unlovely into something truly wonderful. Knock out your prep one thing at a time, slowly building your mise en place. Listen to some music while you do it. There’s an open bottle of wine left from the recipe, so have a glass now and again. Just clean up after yourself as you go, so your kitchen doesn’t look like a disaster area when you start the actual cooking. You should. with any luck, reach a Zen-like state of pleasurable calm. And like the very best dishes coq a vin is one of those that goes on the stove looking, smelling and tasting pretty nasty, and yet later, through the mysterious alchemical processes of time and heat turns into something magical.”
–Les Halles cookbook
I basically agree with everything that Bourdain states in the above excerpt. Unlike some other French dishes that can be brutal (from a time and complexity standpoint) to make, Coq au Vin is pretty simple. Sure, it’s a dish one has to cook in stages but as Bourdain notes, “clean up after yourself as you go,” no need to wait to tackle those two dozen dishes when you’re ready to drop from exhaustion and are too tired to even eat. This is a one pot dish and it’s easy to see why it was originally a “peasant dish” back in the day.
When it comes to French food, I like the simple yet divine tasting dishes-Bœuf Bourguignon and the chicken of all chicken dishes, Coq au Vin which when translated literally from French into English means “a rooster or cock with wine.” Although I wouldn’t want to have either of these things on a hot summer day (they’re much too rich), a cold winter’s night, they are just what your body needs. And frankly, nothing smells more aromatic than food that is simmering in red wine, am I right?
Coq au Vin
recipe courtesy of The Book of French Provincial Cooking by Hilaire Walden
2 tablespoons butter
2 slices thick-cut smoked bacon, chopped
18 pearl onions
8 oz. button mushrooms
Olive oil for frying (optional)
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 onion chopped
1 carrot, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups red Burgundy wine
3/4 cup chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh parsley, to garnish
-Melt butter in a heavy Dutch oven, add bacon and cook until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Add pearl onions to pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Add mushrooms to pan, adding oil if necessary and cook until lightly browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Add chicken to pan and cook over medium to high heat until browned all over. Remove and drain on paper towels.
-Add chopped onion and carrot to pan and cook until lightly browned, adding garlic towards end of cooking. Add flour and cook, stirring 2 minutes. Stir in wine and stock and bring to a boil. Return all ingredients to pan, add bouquet garni, salt and pepper, cover and cook over very low heat 50-60 minutes. Remove chicken and vegetables, discard bouquet garni and boil sauce to thicken. Return chicken and vegetables to pan. Garnish with parsley and serve.