Thursday, March 15, 2012

Coq Au Vin

Coq au vin is the chicken equivalent to beef bourguignon:  meat cooked in wine with bacon, mushrooms and onions.  The chicken comes out tender and delicious, and the mushrooms and onions add a nice earthiness to the dish.  Mashed potatoes or egg noodles make a nice base for everything, and they work well for catching the sauce.
When cooking the mushrooms, don't crowd them in the pan.  They need room to breathe so they brown nicely, you don't want them to steam.

A word of warning, the chicken turns purple.  It's unexpected until you think about it, it is cooking in red wine afterall.  When you make beef bourguignon, you don't notice because the meat is already dark.

This dish would be great for a dinner party.  You can make it ahead of time, then reheating right before dinner.

Coq au Vin (Chicken in Red Wine with Onions, Mushrooms and Bacon)
Adapted from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking as seen on Smitten Kitchen
Yield: 4-6 servings

1 (3-4 oz) chunk of bacon (I used 4 slices of bacon, chopped)
2 Tbsp butter
1- (2.5-3 lb) frying chicken, cut into 8 pieces
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 cup cognac (I omitted)
3 cups young, full-bodied, red wine such as Burgundy, Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone or Chianti
1-2 cups chicken stock, brown stock or canned beef bouillon
1/2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
Brown-braised onions (recipe below)
Sautéed mushrooms (recipe below)
Salt and pepper
3 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp softened butter
Sprigs of fresh parsley (for garnish)
  1. In a Dutch oven, sauté the bacon slowly in hot butter until it is very lightly browned. Remove to a side dish.
  2. Dry the chicken thoroughly. Brown it in the hot fat.
  3. Season the chicken. Return the bacon to the Dutch oven with the chicken. Cover and cook slowly for 10 minutes, turning the chicken once.
  4. Uncover, and pour in the cognac. Averting your face, ignite the cognac with a lighted match. Shake the Dutch oven back and forth for several seconds until the flames subside. (I skipped this whole step.)
  5. Pour the wine into the Dutch oven, and add just enough stock or bouillon to cover the chicken. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic and herbs. Bring to the simmer. Cover and simmer slowly for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and its juices run clear when the meat is pricked with a fork. Remove the chicken to a side dish.
  6. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms (recipes below).
  7. Simmer the cooking liquid in the Dutch oven for a minute or two, skimming off the fat. Then raise the heat and boil rapidly, reducing the liquid to about 2 1/4 cups. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and discard bay leaf.
  8. Blend the butter and flour together into a smooth paste (buerre manie). Beat the paste into the hot liquid with a wire whisk. Bring to a simmer, stirring, and simmer for a minute or two. The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.
  9. Arrange the chicken in the Dutch oven, place the mushrooms and onions around it and baste with the sauce. If this dish is not to be served immediately, film the top of the sauce with stock or dot with small pieces of butter. Set aside uncovered. It can now wait indefinitely.
  10. Shortly before serving, bring to the simmer, basting the chicken with the sauce. Cover and simmer slowly for 4 to 5 minutes, until the chicken is hot enough.
  11. Serve from the dutch oven or arrange on a hot platter. Decorate with sprigs of parsley.

Oignons Glacés a Brun (Brown-braised Onions)
Mastering the Art of French Cooking

18-24 white onions, peeled, about 1 inch in diameter (I used a 10 oz bag frozen pearl onions, thawed)
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 Tbsp oil
1/2 cup of brown stock, canned beef bouillon, dry white wine, red wine or water
Salt and pepper to taste
A medium herb bouquet: 3 parsley springs, 1/2 bay leaf, and 1/4 teaspoon thyme tied in cheesecloth (I used dried parsley and thyme, a small bay leaf and skipped the cheesecloth)

When the butter and oil are bubbling in a large skillet, add the onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling the onions about so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect to brown them uniformly.

Pour in the liquid, season to taste, and add the herb bouquet. Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove the herb bouquet (since I didn't tie them in the cheesecloth, I just had to fish out the bay leaf). Serve them as they are.

Champignons Sautés Au Buerre (Sautéed Mushrooms)
Mastering the Art of French Cooking

2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp oil
1 lb fresh mushrooms, cleaned with a damp cloth, left whole if small, sliced or quartered if large
1 to 2 Tbsp minced shallots or green onions (optional)
Salt and pepper

Place a large skillet over high heat with the butter and oil. (If you don't have a 10" pan , cook the mushrooms in batches, they need room in order to brown.)  As soon as you see the butter foam has begun to subside, indicating that it is hot enough, add the mushrooms. Toss and shake the pan for 4 to 5 minutes.

During their sauté, the mushrooms will at first absorb the fat. In 2 to 3 minutes the fat will reappear on their surface, and the mushrooms will begin to brown. As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from heat.

Toss the shallots or green onions with the mushrooms. Sauté over moderate heat for 2 minutes.

Sautéed mushrooms may be cooked in advance, set aside, then reheated when needed. Season to taste just before serving.

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