Coq au Vin in a French kitchen

Coq au Vin in a French kitchen

Well, I have been absent from blogging for some time. Since it is the holidays, my social calendar has been a bit crowded. But, resits are coming up in a few weeks, so most people are taking it down a notch with partying and start studying and adjusting their sleeping pattern to normal again..

Anyway, in my last post I mentioned that I made coq au vin in an actual french kitchen, which really elevated the entire cooking and eating experience. At the time I was in Varachaud, a small village in the Dordogne-region. After scouting around a local farmer’s market, I decided I had to make coq au vin. Without a recipe or my well stocked supermarket near, it was a bit of an improvisation. But then again, basically everything I do in my kitchen is an improvisation, so nothing new there. My recipe is losely based on the Julia Child version, though I don’t flambé it with cognac. But feel free to!
Since we usually started the evening with some pre-diner wine, accompanied by pre-dinner cheese, I decided to keep the side dishes on the light side. So I went with caramelized chicory (trust me, it is divine!), salad and some bread to mop up that glorious wine sauce. Now, this recipe is quite laborious, but trust me: it’s worth the work!
Coq au Vin (4 persons)
  • 4 chicken legs (preferably free range)
  • 1 bottle of red wine (Bordeaux or Beaujolais is always great. Serve the same wine with the dinner!)
  • 1 jar fond de volaille (poultry fond), about 380 mL (about 13 oz)
  • a little over 110 grams (4 oz) of  sliced bacon. I usually use pancetta, but since they didn’t have that at the farmers market, I used jambon de paysanne (farmer’s ham, actually quite similar to parmaham)
  • 2 large onions, peeled and finely diced
  • 3 or 4 carrots, peeled and finely diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly sliced
  • about 20 white baby onions,peeled, but kept whole (for the dutch folks: zilveruitjes. If you can get them fresh you won’t be disappointed, but otherwise just buy them in a jar and rinse the pickling of)
  • 1/2 pound chestnut mushrooms, halved. (Note: Never rinse mushrooms, wipe them clean with a cloth)
  • 1/2 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • Butter. It’s french cuisine so lots and lots of butter
  • OPTIONAL: 2 bay leaves, some sprigs of fresh thyme. I didn’t have any and it was flavorful enough!
In a large heavy bottomed casserole, heat some butter (I guess about 1 stick of butter? but feel free to add more or less). When melted, add the sliced onion, garlic and carrott, and let sauté for a while. When browned properly, remove from the casserole with a skimmer, preserving the butter. Next, add the mushrooms, as well as some extra butter. Make sure you don’t crowd them, otherwise they won’t brown properly. When they do, remove them as well. Again, with a skimmer, all the good flavours stay in the butter! Next, add the bacon or ham and the small white onions, and cook until slightly browned. Once again, remove from the casserole with a skimmer. Add a little extra butter if necessary, and turn up the heat.
Pat the chicken dry with a cloth or paper towels. Season with plenty salt and pepper, and brown in the hot butter. Return the bacon, cover the casserole and cook for about 10 minutes, turning the chicken once. Pour the wine into the casserole. Add the stock, covering the chicken. Stir in the tomato paste and herbs, and bring to a simmer. After about 10 to 15 minutes, transfer some of the casserole liquid to a bowl. Whisk in the flour until you create a sort of beurre manie. Remove the chicken temporarily to  add the mixture to the casserole. Beat the beurre manie into the hot liquid, using a wire whip. Return the chicken, cover the casserole and let simmer for another 30 minutes on a really low heat. Remove the lid for the last 10 minutes, to thicken the sauce a bit.
Simmering away, it already looks pretty good, doesn’t it?
Meanwhile, prepare the chicory. Now this is realy easy, but everyone will be in awe because it tastes so good, so it’s always an easy way to impress.
  • 1 kilo of chicory, all the leaves stripped but left whole
  • 1 or 2 sticks of salted butter
  • 100 grams of brow caster sugar
  • about 100 mL of water (3.4 oz)

In a large sauté pan, heat the butter, but make sure it doesn’t brown. Add the sugar and stir until melted. Now add the chicory leaves, make sure you coat them all. When they’ve shrunk a bit, add the water, stir well, turn the heat down to a simmer. Make sure most of the liquid is vaporized and all of the leaves all cooked and caramelized all the way through. You can sprinkle it with some thyme.

By the time your chicory is nice and caramelized, your chicken should be about ready. You can place the entire casserole on the table and serve straight from the pan, or you can make the plates at your counter. With the sauce that’s left (and trust me, chances are there will be sauce left) you can make a wonderful pasta dish the next day.  Just heat up and serve with some tagliatelle or whatever other pasta you have laying around.
 To quote Julia Child: ‘Bon Appetit!’
For my next blog, prepare yourself for courgette recipes.. And I mean a LOT

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