When you do a Google search of “Dishes unique to France,” what comes up?
Or what do you think of first?
Beef bourguignon? Crème brûlée? Escargot? Ratatouille? It’s definitely not coq au vin (COCO-VEN).
What’s coq au vin?
Coq au vin or ‘cock in wine’ is a traditional French stew made with chicken, a whole bottle of red wine (oui oui), pearl onions, celery, carrots, and mushrooms. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen a recipe with chicken that calls for red wine. Red wine is always used for dark meats like beef or pork, while white wine is used with fish or chicken. So, I was intrigued. Wouldn’t the wine dye my chicken red? Is that bad?
I decided to find out.
And…it came out great! Coq au vin is a rich stew to say the least of chicken and vegetables that are first marinated overnight, then slowly simmered to tender, ever-so-slightly sweet perfection. Here’s what you’ll need:
20 pearl onions (or 1 large white onion)
2 stalks celery
4 sprigs parsley
4 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
1 whole chicken
1 750ml bottle of red wine (I used Bordeaux, you can also use a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Pinot Noir)
8oz thick-cut bacon
1Tbsp all-purpose flour
salt to taste
fresh parsley for garnish
Step One: Peel the pearl onions. I sliced off the ends and removed the outer layers. Watch some Youtube while you peel. Try not to cry.
Step Two: Chop the celery and carrots. I don’t peel my carrots, seems like a waste of perfectly good food, a good wash is fine. Is that weird?
Step Three: Tie the parsley, thyme, and bay leaves together with string to make a bouquet garni.
Step Four: Cut up the chicken. If you’ve never done this before, it’ll probably feel a bit awkward. Basically, you’re aiming to separate the legs, wings, and thighs from the body at the joints. You can use your hands to feel for them, or bend the limbs in the opposite direction to find where they are. Google it if you have trouble, the more you do it the easier it’ll get!
Separate the wings, legs, thighs, and breasts. Put the remaining skeleton (carcass?) in a freezer bag or container and keep it in the freezer for making chicken broth or soup later.
Step Five: Uncork the wine, and toss the chicken, chopped vegetables, bouquet garni, peppercorns, and wine in a large bowl. Mix to make sure the chicken and bouquet is submerged and coated. Cover and marinate overnight up to two days, turning every twelve hours or so to make sure it gets into every piece.
Step Six: Who knew purple chicken could be so appealing. Strain the marinade, reserving it (you’ll need it later) and let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes to dry out. You can also pat the pieces dry with a paper towel.
Step Seven: While you’re letting the chicken rest, dice the bacon and fry it in a dutch oven until crisp and brown. Remove the bacon from the pan (leaving the grease) and set aside.
Step Eight: Brown the chicken in the bacon grease, working in batches to not crowd the pan. This seemed so wrong and so right. Once the chicken is brown, set it aside.
Step Nine: Add the pearl onions, carrots, and celery from the marinade into the same pot you browned the chicken in. Let them cook for five minutes, then add the mushrooms, and cook a few more minutes. Dust the veggies with the flour, stirring to combine. This will make the gravy nice and thick.
Step Ten: Add the liquid from the marinade, the bouquet garni, and the chicken into the pot and let it come to a boil. When it boils, lower the heat and let it simmer about 1 hour. Skim off any scum that may rise to the surface as it simmers.
Step Eleven: Serve with rice and a glass of your favorite red wine.