Coq au Vin is a classic French dish of chicken cooked in red wine, a surprisingly easy way to make delectable chicken. One tip in particular from Julia Child is to blanch the bacon slices first, which removes some of the saltiness from the bacon before you cook with it.  Coq au vin is real French country cooking, and is is best made only with an old rooster (a coq).  Naturally raised cocks are your best bet and are juicier than the rest.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb. bacon slices or, better yet, slab bacon
  • 20 pearl onions, peeled, or 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 3 lbs. chicken cut into 8 pieces or you can just use 3 lbs. of thighs and legs, excess fat trimmed, skin ON
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 c. chicken stock
  • 2 c. red wine (pinot noir, burgundy, or zinfandel)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Several fresh thyme sprigs
  • Several fresh parsley sprigs
  • 1/2 lb. button mushrooms, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 2 T. butter
  • Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Method

1 Blanch the bacon to remove some of its saltiness. Drop the bacon into a saucepan of cold water, covered by a couple of inches. Bring to a boil, simmer for 5 minutes, drain. Rinse in cold water, pat dry with paper towels. Cut the bacon into 1 inch by 1/4 inch pieces.

2 Brown bacon on medium high heat in a dutch oven big enough to hold the chicken, about 10 minutes. Remove the cooked bacon, set aside. Keep the bacon fat in the pan. Working in batches if necessary, add onions and chicken, skin side down. Brown the chicken well, on all sides, about 10 minutes. Halfway through the browning, add the garlic and sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. (Note: it is best to add salt while cooking, not just at the very end. It brings out the flavor of the chicken.)

3 Spoon off any excess fat. Add the chicken stock, wine, and herbs. Add back the bacon. Lower heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until chicken is tender and cooked through. Remove chicken and onions to a separate platter. Remove the bay leaves, herb sprigs, garlic, and discard.

4 Add mushrooms to the remaining liquid and turn the heat to high. Boil quickly and reduce the liquid by three fourths until it becomes thick and saucy. Lower the heat, stir in the butter. Return the chicken and onions to the pan to reheat and coat with sauce. Adjust seasoning. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Serves 6. Serve with potatoes or over egg noodles (fresh egg noodles are best). Peas make a good side for this dish, as do carmelized pearl onions.  Use a vin ordinaire (table wine) from one of the small vineyards of your countryside, such as a Beaujolais or Pinot Noir.  Mashed potatoes are a good second to the fresh egg noodles.  Always add a good baguette to the table to mop up the goodness of the sauce. A tablespoon of tomato paste is also a good addition with the carrot the veg, many of the recipes also add a chopped carrot.