David Neibart's Coq au Vin
Traditional Slow Braised Chicken
- Servings: about 8.
This dish needs to be started the night before you plan to cook it because the chicken needs to marinade overnight.
- 2 chickens cut into pieces (about 10 pieces in total), bones-in. Just use the legs, thighs, breasts and wings but discard the backs
- 1 bottle of good red wine
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 to 6 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 8 oz. bacon cut into large dice
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 20 pearl onions; either defrosted frozen ones (see our Tip) or else fresh ones that have been peeled and trimmed but left whole
- 8 oz. white button mushrooms; wipe clean with a damp paper towel and trim off the stem and any dark spots; if the mushrooms are small, leave whole; if they are large, cut into medium slices
- 1 teaspoon vegetable or canola oil
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 quart chicken stock; good boxed stock is perfect for this
- 1/2 cup brandy or Cognac
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 1 1/2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- The night before you plan to make this dish, combine the wine, bay leaves, thyme, a pinch of salt and several grinds of pepper together a large non-metallic bowl and add the chicken. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
- In a saute pan, cook the bacon until golden brown and drain on a piece of paper towel.
- Using the same pan in which you cooked the bacon, drain off all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat and add 1 tablespoon butter. When melted and the fat is hot, add the onions and sauté until browned. Set aside.
- Again, using the same pan, melt another tablespoon of the butter, add the mushrooms, seasoned with salt and pepper and sauté for five minutes. Set aside.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade, reserving the marinade. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
- Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and 1 teaspoon oil to the frying pan. When the fat is hot, add the chicken and sauté on all sides until golden. Sprinkle the flour over the browned chicken and stir, turning the pieces of chicken, until the flour covers all the meat.
- Transfer the chicken to a French oven or other heavy stockpot that has a cover.
- Pour the brandy into the frying pan and boil, stirring, for 30 seconds to deglaze the pan. Pour over the chicken. Add the chicken stock, marinade, onions, mushrooms, bacon and tomato paste. Cook on top of the stove over moderate heat that maintains a very gentle simmer for 45 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through (if you want to cook longer, lower the flame). If you think the liquid is cooking off too quickly, place the cover on the pot either entirely or leaving a bit of an opening on one side.
- When ready to serve, remove the chicken and vegetables from the liquid and bring the sauce to a gentle boil and cook until thickened. This can take 5 or so minutes and watch it while it cooks so that the sauce doesn't over-reduce. You can test if the sauce has thickened by dipping a spoon into it, and then using your finger, quickly wipe along the back of the spoon. If you can see a clear ribbon where your finger wiped through the sauce, it has thickened.
- If you need or want to thicken the sauce more, mix together the remaining 2 tablespoons flour and 1 1/2 tablespoon softened butter to make a paste. This is called a beurre manie. Whisk this flour/butter paste into the sauce and continue to gently boil it for about 2 minutes
- Add the parsley and return the chicken and veggies to the sauce.
Serve with steamed potatoes and green beans or other favorite vegetables that will benefit from proximity to the great flavor of this chicken and sauce.
Tip: Since this dish is originally from the Burgundy region of France, it's nice to make it with a wine from that area and also drink it with a Burgundy. Ask your wine merchant to suggest a lower priced but decent one to cook with, and a better one to drink.
Tip: This recipe is a perfect time to use frozen pearl onions. Make sure you buy ones that have no sauce or seasonings; the unadulterated ones often come in a plastic bag instead of a box. Defrost by placing the onions you'll use in the recipe into a dish, cover it and put in the refrigerator overnight while you marinate the chicken. This way they'll defrost slowly. Wipe dry with a paper towel before using.