Coq au Vin

Coq au Vin is rustic French dish that is often only ordered at restaurant thinking it is too daunting of a task to make at home. However, you should treat yourself at home and it is quite easy to make. It is perfect for a dinner party, because it can be made ahead. Let it simmer while you enjoy your guests. This particular version uses port instead of red wine for a more robust sauce but feel free to use the traditional technique of using red wine. The second thing I did differently is that I was able to remove almost all of the skin and fat from the chicken. This made for a more flavorful chicken and a less fattening sauce. If you can’t do this or like the skin, feel free to leave it on. Also traditional recipes fry the bacon in the pan before browning the chicken and use the bacon grease along with some oil to brown the chicken. I chose not to do this, because I use precooked bacon and cook it a little more in the microwave for crispier bacon. You can choose either technique. Ingredient amounts will serve between 4 to 6 people, depending on appetites.

As side note my sister Diane made this over her lunch break and placed it in a crock pot to finish the cooking process and came home to a fabulous French dinner!  If you want to try her way use the stove to start the dish and then transfer the contents of the pot to a crockpot and finish the cooking process on low for 4 hours.  Unless your crockpot has a boiling setting, you will have to transfer back to a large pot and thicken the sauce on the stove.  

Ingredients

1 whole chicken cut or one that already has been cut about 4 1/2 pounds (skin and fat removed if desired)
1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon of Herbs de Provence plus 1/2 teaspoon
1 teaspoon of kosher salt divided
1 teaspoon of fresh pepper divided
1/3 cup of olive oil (or use the bacon grease if you sauté the bacon in the pot)
2 cups of cremini mushrooms or button mushrooms washed remove any tough stems and cut in quarters
3 garlic cloves crushed through a garlic press or 3 cubes of Dorot brand garlic cubes
3 – 4 inch sprigs of thyme sprigs
2 cups of ruby port
1 cup of chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
Half a bag of 1 lb. frozen pearl onions
1 tablespoons of cornstarch
2 tablespoons of water
6 pieces of cooked bacon crumbled
Flat leaf parsley minced (optional)

Technique

Cut and wash the chicken before starting the recipe. Remove skin and fat if desired. If you are using regular bacon, render it in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium high heat until crispy. Remove, blot any grease and set aside. Use this grease along with any additional oil for cooking the chicken. If you are not using this type of bacon, add the olive oil to the Dutch oven or large pot. On a large plate add flour, 1 tablespoon of Herbs de Provence and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Mix and dredge chicken. In a large Dutch oven or large pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add chicken and sear meat on both sides in batches and transfer to a large plate. Don’t over crowd the pot or meat won’t sear. Add mushrooms and sauté until tender. Add the garlic and thyme and sauté for about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Deglaze the pot with the port, scraping up brown bits at the bottom of the pot. Add broth, tomato paste, chicken, pearl onions, 1/2 teaspoon of Herbs de Provence, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for about 2 hours or until chicken is done. Stir often. Remove the chicken and reserve on a plate. Discard the thyme stems. Make a thickening agent by whisking cornstarch and water. Gradually whisk the thickening agent into the boiling sauce. Sauce will not thicken until brought to a boil. Add the chicken back to the pot. Cook bacon if you have not already done so. You may have to cook pre-cooked bacon a tad bit more in the microwave to get it crispier.   Crumble once cool enough to handle.  Serve family style or plate as shown with crumbled bacon and parsley.

Suggested Side Dish

Try Classic Mashed Potatoes or egg noodles.

Suggested Beverage

Try Bogle Vineyards Merlot (California), Château Greysac Médoc, Château La Confession Saint-Émillion Grand-Cru or Jean-Philippe Janoueix.

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