Coq au Vin

November 6, 2011 § 1 Comment

E: Here’s another family recipe finally seeing the light of the internet for the first time. I don’t know where it came from initially, but I think it is pretty good. My mother has been making coq au vin approximately like this for years (I say approximately because she doesn’t usually measure anything) and I quite like it. I’ve made some slight changes, mostly to give it a bit more onion and garlic flavor, but the recipe is pretty much preserved from how I received it when I asked her to write it down for me in college.

yes this is rooster in wine

You can make it equally well with red or white wine, and I’ve seen recipes that do it either way. I tend to use white because the end product is prettier, but I think you can use whatever you have at the time. It certainly won’t turn out bad. I’ve also made it using vermouth when I didn’t want to open a bottle of wine and I found that definitely worked ok too.

This is a classic dish that you simply have to make at some point. But please pronounce it correctly. If you say it “cocoa vinn” I will send some angry Frenchman to find you and teach you how to say it the right way.

1 pound chicken breasts, filets, or cutlets
9-10 crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 Tbsp butter or oil for frying
1 C. wine (less if using vermouth, try maybe 1/3 cup to start)
1 C. chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. Herbes de Provence (or substitute some rosemary & more thyme)
Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp flour or 2 tsp corn starch (for thickening)

Serving suggestion:
asparagus, olive oil, salt and pepper

Ok, here we go. Start by preparing everything to make things easier down the road. Cut up the chicken into bite-sized chunks. Slice the mushrooms thinly.

joanna did this slicing with my knife: not bad!

Chop the onion, scallions, and garlic.

chopped aromatics

Now you should be pretty much ready to go. Add the butter or oil to the pan and heat it on high. If you are using butter, you can let the butter brown a bit before you begin. When the butter or oil is hot, add the chicken pieces to the pan.

searing the chicken

Sear the chicken for a few minutes until the chicken is pretty much cooked through and has some color on it. It shouldn’t take too long.

Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Add some more oil if necessary, and cook the onions for about 5 minutes over medium heat until translucent. Then add the scallions and garlic. Either remove all this after 3 minutes or so and cook the mushrooms separately for deeper flavor, or just toss them in too and forge ahead.

cooking the other ingredients

Cook for a few minutes or until the mushrooms are softening and looking dark and wet. Add the wine and the chicken stock, and return the chicken to the pan. Season with the herbs and the pepper and set the liquids simmering for 30 minutes to an hour. Thirty minutes will almost certainly suffice. The chicken should be fully cooked and quite tender, so don’t cook for so long that it becomes tough. During this time the sauce will cook down and thicken naturally.

cooking down

But this isn’t going to be quite enough for us, so when you think the chicken is done, get ready for the final steps. Create a slurry of the cornstarch or flour with a little water, wine, or extra stock. Add that to the pan and mix it around. Keep the mixture simmering for a few minutes to thicken it. While you are doing that, taste the sauce and add more herbs, salt, or pepper to taste. My mother’s recipe notes you can also add some milk or cream to the sauce, but she’s never done so. I certainly don’t think it is needed.

When the sauce has thickened, it is ready to serve.

We baked some asparagus to go with our coq au vin. Just roll it in a baking pan with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, and bake at 350F for 15 to 20 minutes. We also made some really fluffy couscous for this dish. Turns out the secret to fluffy couscous is to use a baking dish or casserole dish with a really large surface area. Lay the couscous in the dish, and spread it out as much as possible. Bring the water to a boil, pour it over the couscous, and cover the whole thing in plastic wrap.

When the couscous has absorbed all the water, fluff it with a fork and you will discover that with less weight on top pushing down, the end product has a lot more volume.

it was very fluffy

(Then again if you are like me and think the best parts of couscous are the clumps that get stuck together, this may not be for you. Joanna loved it though.)

Serve your coq au vin with plenty of the sauce. We made a little round of couscous—not having a circular mold or form—by packing it into a biscuit cutter. Add some of the asparagus artfully to the side, and serve.

trying to inject some class into a family favorite

We hope you enjoy it! And hopefully Joanna will pull through with another post for you all soon. She’s been really busy! But I still feel like this blog is more hers than mine, and I don’t like the feeling I’m taking over. (Hear that, you?)


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