Our First Creusade: Coq au Vin

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For us, visiting a kitchen store is like entering a candy shop. All those bright, shiny colors lure you in and you can’t help walking out with some kind of goody. The second we get home we rip off the wrappers and dive in. Okay, so kitchen toys don’t give you cavities, but we still get a sugar-rush of pure excitement every time we get a new one.

For some months now, we’ve both coveted the dutch oven made by Le Creuset. They are a cooking staple, and with seasonal recipes now turning to cozy soups and roasts, we both felt this was the time to finally commit. After scoping out a sale at a neighborhood store, we lugged our 7 lb. baby home and got cooking.

Coq au vin seemed like the perfect debut for our shiny new pot. It’s basically a whole chicken braised in half a bottle of red wine. Even though we’d never attempted this dish before, we rolled up our sleeves, turned up our French Bistro mix on the stereo, and acted out our best Julia Child impersonations.

1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces – the butcher at PCC does this for free 😉
4 slices thick bacon, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 carrots, 1″ chunks
10-12 crimini mushrooms, thick slices
1/2 bottle of good red wine (Burgundy or pinot noir, preferably)
a splash of brandy
2 cups chicken stock
5 big sprigs of thyme
2 1/2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 250˚

Heat up your dutch oven or pot over medium heat and add the bacon. Stir regularly and cook until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pot, but leave several tablespoons of fat behind. Brown the chicken, a few pieces at a time, turning every couple of minutes until all sides are evenly browned. If you add too many pieces to the pot, the chicken will end up getting steamed instead of browned. Once all the chicken is finished and set aside, make sure there are still a couple of tablespoons of bacon fat in the pot (or add some olive oil, if your bacon yielded a small amount of fat). Add the onion and carrots to the pan and cook until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic for a minute or two, stirring regularly, then add the mushrooms and continue to stir until they release their liquid.

Once the mushrooms are evenly softened and most of their liquid has cooked off, add the bacon and chicken legs (keep out the white meat) back to the pot and add the brandy. Allow the brandy to cook off, then pour in the wine and bring the pot to a simmer. Add the chicken stock, thyme and a couple pinches of salt to taste. Bring to a simmer again, then put the lid on your dutch oven and place in the oven. Let the legs braise in the oven for 20 minutes, then add the breasts to the pot and cook for another 25-30 minutes, or until the white meat is cooked through.

Once the breasts are in the pot, heat up a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add 2 1/2 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp flour. Mix constantly until the mixture turns golden brown and smells nutty and delicious. Once the chicken is cooked, slowly pour the roux into the pot and stir over low heat until the whole thing thickens up. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve over potatoes! Bon Appétit!


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