Thursday, March 1, 2012

Coq Au Vin - Julia Child

With a little imagination, "Mademoiselle de Paris" softly playing on the radio, and a glass of red wine in hand, my kitchen can be transformed into a Parisian  pied-à-terre near the Champs-Élysées any day of the week...

Okay, maybe with A LOT of imagination!

No, seriously...I love to get into the kitchen, put a little Juliette Greco or Edith Piaf on the radio and cook a classically delicious French meal.  There's something amazing about all those layers of flavor that go into a meal cooked slowly with red wine like Coq Au Vin or Boeuf Bourguignon.  And, if you've never made one of these, you are missing out on two of the best dishes you'll ever eat.  I blogged about Julia's Boeuf Bourguignon HERE, and her recipe below for Coq Au Vin is equally as life-changing. 

When I'm in the mood for classic French cuisine, I undoubtedly always turn to Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  I only made a few minor adjustments:  I did not use the cognac.  The idea of lighting it on fire with a match makes me incredibly nervous!  I'll get over that one day, but not just yet.  Also, I couldn't find fresh pearl onions, so I left those out.  However, I partially made up for that by using regular onions in the following marinade technique:

Some recipes for Coq Au Vin, like THIS ONE, call for marinating the chicken pieces in the red wine overnight, along with carrots, onions and celery.  I really loved that idea, so I added this extra step to Julia's version, using the quantities in the recipe from Epicurious included above.  I simply removed the chicken from the marinade (reserving the marinade!) and dried it well with paper towels before browning it in the bacon fat.  I also left the vegetables in the marinade while it simmered with the chicken, but strained the veggies out after the chicken was removed (see notes below).  

This dish was amazing, and Brad gave it 2 BIG thumbs up as well.

Bon Appetit, my friends!

  • See my notes above about marinating the chicken overnight!  If you do this, extra ingredients will be needed.
  • 3 to 4-ounce chunk lean bacon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds frying chicken, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus additional for seasoning
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper, plus additional for seasoning
  • 1/4 cup cognac
  • 3 cups young, full-bodied red wine, such as Burgundy, Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone, or Chianti
  • 1 to 2 cups brown chicken stock, brown stock or canned beef bouillon
  • 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 12 to 24 Brown-Braised Onions, recipe follows
  • 1/2 pound Sauteed Mushrooms, recipe follows
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • Fresh parsley leaves
Remove the rind and cut the bacon into lardons (rectangles 1/4-inch across and 1-inch long). Simmer for 10 minutes in 2 quarts of water. Rinse in cold water. Dry.

In a heavy large heavy bottomed casserole or Dutch oven, saute the bacon slowly in hot butter until it is very lightly browned (temperature of 260 degrees F for an electric skillet). Remove to a side dish.

Dry the chicken thoroughly. Brown it in the hot fat in the casserole. (360 degrees F for the electric skillet.)

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Return the bacon to the casserole with the chicken. Cover and cook slowly (300 degrees F) for 10 minutes, turning the chicken once.

Uncover, and pour in the cognac. Averting your face, ignite the cognac with a lighted match. Shake the casserole back and forth for several seconds until the flames subside.

Pour the wine (or reserved marinade in my case) into the casserole. Add just enough stock or bouillon to cover the chicken. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic and herbs. Bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer slowly for 20 to 25 minutes (I simmered mine for closer to 45 minutes), or until the chicken is tender and its juices run a clear yellow when the meat is pricked with a fork. Remove the chicken to a side dish.

(Note:  This is where I strained the extra veggies out of the cooking liquid.  See my notes in the headnote above.)

While the chicken is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms.

Simmer the chicken cooking liquid in the casserole for 1 to 2 minutes, skimming off fat. Then raise the heat and boil rapidly, reducing the liquid to about 2 1/4 cups. Correct seasoning. Remove from heat, and discard bay leaf.

Blend the butter and flour together into a smooth paste (beurre manie). Beat the paste into the hot liquid with a wire whip. Bring to the simmer, stirring and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes. The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.

Arrange the chicken in a casserole, place the mushrooms and onions around it and baste with the sauce. If the dish is not to be served immediately, film the top of the sauce with stock or dot with small pieces of butter. Set aside uncovered for no longer than 1 hour or cool, cover and refrigerate until needed.

Shortly before serving, bring the casserole to a simmer, basting the chicken with the sauce. Cover and simmer slowly for 4 to 5 minutes, until the chicken is heated through.

Serve from the casserole, or arrange on a hot platter. Decorate with sprigs of parsley. 

Brown-Braised Onions:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons oil
  • 18 to 24 peeled white onions, about 1-inch in diameter
  • 1/2 cup brown stock, canned beef bouillon, dry white wine, red wine, or water
  • Salt and pepper
  • Medium herb bouquet: 4 parsley sprigs, 1/2 bay leaf and 1/4 teaspoon thyme tied in cheesecloth
When the butter and oil are bubbling in the skillet, add the onions and saute over moderate heat for 10 minutes, rolling the onions about so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect to brown them uniformly.

Braise them as follows: Pour in the stock, season to taste, and add the herb bouquet. Cover and simmer slowly for 15 to 20 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet. Serve them as they are.

Bake them as follows: Transfer the onions and their sauteing fat to a shallow baking dish or casserole just large enough to hold them in 1 layer. Set uncovered in upper third of a preheated 350 degree F oven for 40 to 50 minutes, turning them over once or twice. They should be very tender, retain their shape and be a nice golden brown. Remove herb bouquet. Serve them as they are.

Sauteed Mushrooms:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, washed, well dried, left whole if small, sliced or quartered if large
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons minced shallots or green onions, optional
  • Salt and pepper
Place the skillet over high heat with the butter and oil. As soon as you see that the butter foam has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add the mushrooms. Toss and shake the pan for 4 to 5 minutes. During their saute the mushrooms will at first absorb the fat. In 2 to 3 minutes the fat will reappear on their surface, and the mushrooms will begin to brown. As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from heat.

Toss the shallots or green onions, if using, with the mushrooms. Saute over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Sauteed mushrooms may be cooked in advance, set aside, then reheated when needed. Season to taste just before serving. 

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julie said...

J'adore Julia (not only because I share her name :)
I started out at the elementary level years ago with her The French Chef Cookbook but this past year graduated to Mastering the Art of French Cooking for my birthday. I definitely agree that her coq au vin is to die for and that and her boeuf are generally my two staples in terms of ordering at a French restaurant.

Have you seen the movie Midnight in Paris? Such a beautiful ode to Paris!

Celeste said...

Hey there!! I adore Midnight in Paris...Isn't it fabulous? I don't own tons of DVDs, but that one quickly found a spot in my collection.

I think it's amazing that you've traveled to so many places. My husband and I took a 2 week vacation around Europe, and we are constantly saying how much we want to go back.

Becki's Whole Life said...

I have only made a few of Julia's recipes, but this sounds absolutely wonderful and a great one to start out with! Would make a great weekend meal!

Anonymous said...

This looks delicious - I am a Julia fan, too! Thank you for the friendship request on FoodBuzz!

elizabeth said...

I haven't had coq au vin in a while (usually because I don't think about it until the day of, and then I've missed the overnight marinating window) but now I want to bust out my copy of Mastering and plan to make this for next Sunday's supper. Absolutely lovely!

(P.S.--Alton Brown gets around the fresh pearl onion issue by using frozen ones, and if they are good enough for him, they are good enough for me.)

Bob Gordon said...

I made this dish one time following Julia Child's recipe. I really like the braised chicken recipe -which is part of the whole process. Unfortunately this one requires so many steps to get it just right.