I’ve been slowing working on my French cooking techniques as you’ve probably noticed lately, with things like the Galette coming up and now Coq au Vin. It’s an area I’m weak in and have decided to work on since I love French food.
While you might think French cooking is too hard or complicated, most of the time it’s not. It uses the simplest of techniques to create wonderful tasting dishes such as slow braising or roasting to infuse flavors with each other. I always thought Coq au Vin would be a lot harder and I must admit that I did taking one short cut over making it exactly like the traditional recipe. I did not marinate the chicken overnight or up to two days in the liquids or use a whole chicken (GASP! Shocking I know for Coq au Vin.).
I also did not use mushrooms in this recipe because I simply did not have any and didn’t have time to run to the store to get any. But I do plan of adding the mushrooms next time! Instead, I used things I had in the fridge and a leftover bottle of a very dry red wine that we didn’t get finished drinking. Probably because I’m really not into very dry wines but this one was robust and full of earthy, fruity flavors that went well in the Coq au Vin.
I always recommend that you use the same type of wine you’re planning on drinking with the meal in the cooking. And I know I’ve said this before, never use that horrible cooking wine in your food. Always use a wine or any alcohol you will drink, cause it does affect the taste, quality and flavors of the food. I know it’s sometimes hard to dump a $20 or more dollar bottle of wine into cooking but it is so worth it (I do tend to try to keep it around $10 for this purpose, but it has happened that more expensive ones end up in the food.). Plus it’s a great way to use up the ones you didn’t like or had extra leftover!
I was afraid it would be a little too heavy for a summertime dish but went with it anyway because I wanted to use up the wine instead of dumping it down the drain. Such a waste when that event happens! I also had extra carrots and plenty of chicken thighs that needed using. In Colorado, carrots, potatoes and onions are summertime veggies instead of a winter one like in most places, so its fun to use them while fresh.
So while you don’t need a long time for the marinading of the chicken in this recipe, do leave yourself a couple of hours to do the prep and cooking, because good braising should be done slowly instead of forcing the meat to hurry up and cook. Slowly, creates fall off the bone and allows the flavors from the sauce to soak through the meat, creating the most yummy flavors.
And while you could substitute dried herbs in this recipe, I really recommend that you stick with fresh ones. Another advantage to cooking this in the summer, since I just snipped them from the plants on my balcony. Paired with lovely freshly mashed potatoes and garlic, the Coq au Vin was both beautiful and filled with wonderfully balanced flavors. I don’t think my husband stopped talking about how good it all was over the entire dinner and then was happy to tell me that his leftovers for lunch the next day were just as yummy.
Shortcut Coq au Vin
1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 strips of thick cut bacon, diced
5 large carrots, diced
1 cup green peas
1 large onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
8 chicken thighs, bone-in (or 8 chicken pieces of your choice)
1 bottle dry red wine such as Burgundy, Pinot Noir, or Sangiovese
4 cups chicken stock
5 large fresh thyme sprigs
3 large rosemary sprigs
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
Bundle the fresh herbs together with string or in a cheesecloth wrapper and set aside until needed.
Heat a large skillet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Season the chicken pieces well with salt and pepper. Add to skillet and brown both sides (you are just browning, not cooking the meat). Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Add the bacon, onion and carrots to the pan and cook until crisp. Cook until the onion is soft before adding the garlic to the pan and cooking for about another minute or until garlic is fragrant (don’t worry about carrots, they will soften as the dish cooks). Pour in half the wine and reduce to half. Add the rest of the wine and reduce again by half.
Add the chicken back to the pan and then pour in the chicken stock. Add the herb bundle and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to a slow simmer and cover. Allow the chicken to simmer for about 30 minutes more minutes or until tender. Remove chicken from the pan and bring liquids back to a boil. Cook until it reduces down and thickens up to make the sauce. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning if needed.
Add the peas the last five minutes of cooking. Remove the herb bundle and add the chicken back to the pan. Serve warm over mashed potatoes, rice, or pasta.
Serves 6 to 8.
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