I took accelerated French classes when I was in college. Up to that point, everything I knew about French could be summed up in three words: Pepé Le Pew. But I thought I might be able to remember enough to pass if my quizzes were every other day instead of once a week. What I didn’t count on was the professor stopping by our desks every day to ask us what we’d done the day before. IN FRENCH. And we were supposed to answer. IN FRENCH. En français.
Every day, I’d give her the same answer: “J’ai joué” (“I played”). And she had mercy on my non-French speaking soul and moved on to the next person, whose eyes are probably permanently rolled to this day. This went on until the day she started teaching the French words for foods. And I could REMEMBER them! Soon, I could tell her that I’d played with gateau, fromage and le dessert. Practically fluent.
So, I was very excited when Ina Garten’s Coq Au Vin was chosen as one of this month’s Barefoot Bloggers recipes, because it gave me the chance to show off my mad French skills. Until Jeff started repeating my pronunciation of Coq Au Vin. That’s when I finally realized what my professor knew years ago – that my “French” accent sounds more like Justin Wilson than Catherine Deneuve. Aiyeeee! Bless her heart.
Literally “chicken in wine,” Coq Au Vin is a classic French dish featuring chicken pieces cooked in red wine with pork, mushrooms, onions, garlic, brandy and fresh thyme. Think beef Bourguignon with chicken. Tender chicken that falls off the bone, plenty of aromats (like onions, carrots, garlic and thyme) and a rich red wine sauce. It’s a little carb-deficient, but you can easily remedy that the way we did: by ladling the Coq Au Vin over garlic mashed potatoes. Laissez les bons temps rouler.
Coq Au Vin
Adapted from Ina Garten’s “Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics”
- 2 tablespoons good olive oil
- 4 ounces good bacon or pancetta, diced
- 1 (3 to 4-pound) chicken, cut in 8ths
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 pound carrots, cut diagonally in 1-inch pieces
- 1 yellow onion, sliced
- 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
- 1/4 cup Cognac or good brandy
- 1/2 bottle (375 ml) good dry red wine such as Burgundy
- 1 cup good chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 10 fresh thyme sprigs
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
- 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 pound frozen small whole onions
- 1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, stems removed and thickly sliced
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
- Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove the bacon to a plate with a slotted spoon.
- Meanwhile, lay the chicken out on paper towels and pat dry. Liberally sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. When the bacon is removed, brown the chicken pieces in batches in a single layer for about 5 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Remove the chicken to the plate with the bacon, and continue to brown until all the chicken is done. Set aside.
- Add the carrots, onions, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper to the pan and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
- Add the Cognac and put the bacon, chicken, and any juices that collected on the plate into the pot. Add the wine, chicken stock, and thyme and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid, and place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just not pink. Remove from the oven and place on top of the stove.
- Mash 1 tablespoon of butter and the flour together, and stir the mixture into the stew. Add the frozen onions.
- In a medium saute pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and cook the mushrooms over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until browned. Add to the stew. Bring the stew to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes. Season to taste. Serve hot.