A classic French bistro dish, coq au vin is a fabulous recipe to cook at home, if you want a taste of France on a chilly winter weekend. Rich and slow cooking, the house will be filled with the tantalising aromas of savoury wine soaked casserole, banishing any residual winter blues.
One thing to remember when cooking coq au vin – the wine is an important ingredient, so don’t buy a cheap and nasty red, use wine that you would be happy to drink. It doesn’t have to be a reserve wine or even very expensive, just a good quaffable red.
1 large free range chicken, cut into eight pieces with all the bone left in.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion chopped roughly
1 clove garlic sliced thinly
1 carrot, chopped roughly
2 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs parsley plus more for garnish
125g / 4oz unsmoked bacon, thick slices chopped into lardons are ideal
20 button mushrooms
2 teaspoons butter
1 bottle good red wine
3 tablespoons cognac
100ml / ½ cup chicken stock
In a heavy oven proof casserole, heat the oil and butter over a medium heat. Cook the carrot and onion for three minutes or so until they are colouring nicely. Add the bacon and continue cooking. Once the bacon starts to brown, add the garlic and cook for a few more minutes. Don’t let the garlic get dark, it should just soften. Now use a slotted spoon to remove all the vegetables to a plate and leave the oil in the pot.
Pat the chicken pieces dry with kitchen paper. Turn up the heat until the fat is sizzling. Put in four pieces of chicken skin side down. Let them cook without moving them for three to four minutes. You want them to brown so don’t keep turning them. When the chicken is golden on one side, turn and cook the other side for about three minutes. Remove them to a plate and cook the other four pieces of chicken.
Turn the heat down. Return the chicken and vegetables to the pan. Tip the cognac into the pan and flame it. Hold a lighted match an inch or two over the liquid until it bursts into flame. It will burn off the alcohol and leave you with the flavour. Season with salt and pepper and then in pour in the wine gradually, keeping back about two glasses. Try and keep the liquid at a simmer. Add the herbs and stock and bring back to a simmer. Cover the pot and put it all in the oven to cook at about 140C. Cook for 1 ½ to 2 hours until the meat comes easily away from the bone.
While that is cooking, prepare the mushrooms. Wipe them clean. Melt 2 teaspoons butter in a small pan, add half a glass of the reserved wine, add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and simmer gently covered for 20 minutes. Remove from heat.
When the chicken is very tender, remove the pieces to a warm plate with a slotted spoon and keep them warm. Strain the remaining liquid (together with any from the mushrooms) and boil it to reduce it by at least half. Thicken the sauce by whisking in a mixture of 2 teaspoons butter mixed with the same amount of flour. (You don’t have to do this step, but it makes the sauce thick and glossy, which is the authentic French way)
Return the chicken and mushrooms to the sauce, warm it through and serve hot.
If this recipe sounds too much like hard work, why not head out to one of our listed French restaurants in Derbyshire and savour some authentic French flavour at dinner tonight.