Coq au Vin
This is a hopelessly frumpy and old-fashioned dish that never fails to charm and seduce everyone, when care is taken in the preparation. It can be a glorious chicken stew, but often it becomes a throw everything in a pot and cook for an hour, or something out of the crock pot to which chicken and wine were added. The literal translation is, of course, cock with wine, and is supposed to be made with roosters and red wine. Mushrooms and pearl onions are the traditional vegetabe garnishes, I added peas and carrots-probably a heresy of some sort, but delicious none -the-less.
Since Julia was my first French teacher-(food, wine, culture, language, etc.) I must reference her "The French Chef Cookbook" as my touchstone. I'm pretty sure she would not like adding peas and carrots to the dish, in fact she recommends peas as an additional side dish to the stew, but definitely not part of it.
To me the most important technique in Julia's recipe is to cook each component of the stew separately and then simmering them together briefly just before serving.
4 rashers of bacon
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 chickens, cut up into 8 pieces each
1/2 cup brandy
4 cups red wine
4 cups beef stock
2 Tblespoons of tomato paste
Bouquet Garnie -I used parsley, bay, and thyme
1 1/2 pounds pearl onions
1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 pound peas-I used frozen
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
Salt and pepper as needed
Render the bacon in a Dutch Oven, reserve the bacon and add oil to the pan.
Slowly brown the chicken, do not crowd the pan, do this in several batches.
When all the chicken is browned, put them back in the Dutch Oven, add the brandy and flame and reduce til almost totally evaporated.
Add the wine, stock, tomato paste, and bouquet garnie to the pot and bring it to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer over very slow heat until the chicken is cooked. Or place it in a preheated oven for 1/2 hour or 45 minutes until the chicken is cooked.
While the chicken cooks, prepare the vegetables. Each vegetable must be prepared separately. I start with a little butter in a saute pan, add the vegetables, season with salt and pepper and saute over very low heat until the vegetables begin to soften and sizzle, just slightly browning them. Add a little stock as needed to prevent too much browning. Reserve the vegetables until the chicken is finished cooking and the sauce is thickened.
When the chicken is done, remove it from the pot and hold, covered with foil to keep it warm.
Make a Buerre Manie with the flour and butter and thicken the wine-stock mixture. Taste and adjust seasoning, and reduce slightly until the flavor and thickness are correct.
Add the chicken, bacon, and vegetables back to the pot and simmer very briefly before serving-about 10 minutes-remove the bouquet garnie before serving. Really good with potatoes, rice or noodles.