Soups and stews are the best for chilly evenings, and coq au vin is the perfect French rustic comfort food. It’s also a great dish for leftovers. You can easily add some extra chicken and vegetables and have a few easy weekday lunches.
Coq au vin is from Burgundy and is traditionally made with a rooster, but try finding one! (Eatwell Farms often sells rooster at the Ferry Plaza market in San Francisco.) We typically make it with chicken, which is convenient because it doesn’t need to cook as long. Ninety percent of the cooking happens in our traditional French Staub coq au vin pot (c/o) to create a rich stew of chicken and mushrooms. It fits an entire chicken and all of the vegetables that go with it. It’s easy to brown the chicken, and it’s also easy to clean and has an adorable rooster as a handle. Who doesn’t love that? We also love that the heavy cast iron holds the heat so well that we don’t even have to put it in the oven and heat up the house. In this pot, we just cook it covered on the stovetop.
We don’t really follow a recipe, but we’ve shared our usual process below, along with some shortcuts. We also have a couple of tips learned from trial and error.
First, coq au vin was traditionally made with rooster and braising it for hours in red wine was the only way to make the meat tender. With chicken, you don’t have that problem, and if you cook it too long, it will fall apart.
Second, be sure to use a light bodied red wine (being from Burgundy, Pinot Noir would be most authentic). If you use a bold red wine, there is a very high likelihood that your sauce (and chicken) will turn purple from the more intense blue pigments in the grapes.
Third, to flambé the brandy, be sure to turn off the heat, stand back, and use a long match or lighter to ignite the brandy. Keep your hands back–the fumes will ignite as soon as the flame gets close.
We used to use frozen pearl onions until we tried adding fresh ones and we loved them. Either will work, but we prefer the fresh to the frozen. If you like French food, two of our favorite cookbooks are this one and this one. Bon appetit!
- 1 whole chicken, cut into 10 pieces (split the breasts)
- 1 lb cremini mushrooms
- 20-25 pearl onions
- ¼ lb lardons of pork or strips of thick sliced bacon, cut in ¼" pieces
- Flour, for dusting
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- ¼ cup brandy
- 1 bottle red wine
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 bunch of thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 Tablespoons of butter
- Season the pieces of chicken with salt and pepper and set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Slice the mushrooms into ¼" slices and set aside.
- Cut off the very top and bottom of the onions. Either 1) using a paring knife, make a very shallow cut from top to bottom, just through the skin and peel, or 2) bring a small pot of water to a boil, drop in the onions, and boil 2-3 minutes, or just until the skin is soft enough to peel. Set aside the peeled onions.
- Heat a heavy bottomed dutch oven or coq au vin pot over medium heat and add the bacon. Cook until well browned and then remove to a plate and set aside, leaving behind the rendered fat.
- While the pan is still hot, dust the chicken pieces with flour on both sides and sear them in batches, until well browned on each side. Remove and set aside.
- Add the garlic and saute until just golden.
- Add the brandy to the hot pan to deglaze. Turn off the heat and, using a long match or lighter, and standing back from the pan, ignite the alcohol. It should burn off very quickly.
- Then return the chicken to the pan, along with any accumulated juices on the plate, the bacon, and the thyme and bay leaves. Sprinkle with 1-2 tablespoons of flour. Toss to coat and return the pan to medium-low heat. Add the bottle of red wine and chicken stock.
- Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook 30 - 45 minutes. Test a piece of dark meat chicken by cutting into it to make sure it is fully cooked and the juices run clear.
- While the chicken is cooking, heat a tablespoon of butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until lightly browned. Remove and set aside, then add the mushrooms and cook until they soften and release their liquid. Season with salt and set aside.
- To finish, once the chicken is cooked through, add the mushrooms and onions to the chicken and wine. Add butter and season with salt and pepper to taste and cook a few minutes to finish.