Monday, December 20, 2010

Coq Au Vin - The Best Thing I Make

Look people, I'm not a trained chef. I don't make French food very often. I don't even claim to say that this is actually an authentic version of the dish because it's not, I don't use bacon and I slice my veggies entirely too big, plus this last time, I used bagged baby carrots. Regardles, this is by far, the best thing I make. This is part of my perfect Christmas meal. Well, this and a poached pear salad with blue cheese, some leafed brussel sprouts with pancetta, roasted new potatoes, a pot of lavender creme brule and a bottle of champagne (but those are other blog posts). This however is the king of my Christmas dinner.

Coq Au Vin
(boy chicken with wine)

1/4 cup olive oil
1 large yellow onion, sliced
3 cups of carrots
4 stalks of celery sliced thickly
1 whole chicken cut up (yes a girl chicken is fine)
6 garlic cloves, peeled and diced
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups Bordeaux wine
3 fresh bay leaves
Lots of fresh thyme sprigs
1/2 lb button mushrooms whole
Salt and pepper to taste

In an enameled cast iron skillet on medium heat, sweat carrots, celery onions and garlic in olive oil with salt and pepper. Remove and set aside.

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Working in batches add chicken to hot pan skin side down. Brown the chicken well, on all sides, about 10 minutes. It will not be cooked all the way through.

Don't be afraid of the color at the bottom of the pan (within reason) as that is where the flavor of the dish comes from.

Spoon off any excess fat or not. I don't. Add wine and de-glaze the pan by getting that spoon down in there scrapping the brown bits off the bottom. Add the chicken stock and herbs.

Let it come to a strong boil.

Then add back the veggies and chicken. Lower heat to a simmer.

Cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until chicken is tender and cooked through.

Remove chicken and onions to a separate platter. Remove the bay leaves, herb sprigs, garlic, and discard.

Add mushrooms to the remaining liquid and turn the heat to high.

Boil quickly and reduce the liquid by three fourths until it becomes thick and saucy. Mushrooms should be dark by the time it's done. Taste and season with salt and pepper if you still need a little bit.

Lower the heat. Return the chicken and onions to the pan to reheat and coat with the new thickened sauce.

Serve with roasted or gratin potatoes or even egg noodles, the sauce is king in this dish, so any starch that soaks it up ends up tasting like heaven.

Drink the rest of the wine with this dinner. Bacchus with be dining with you since it's his favorite meal too and it's only polite.

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