It’s French Week, or at least a few French themed posts for no reason other than I can. French cuisine gets a pretty bad rap in popular culture, especially the Nouvelle Cuisine that was big in the 70s. French cuisine, especially the more rustic French cuisine has a lot of similarities to Italian cuisine – really good quality ingredients treated to let them taste the best. The French ethos seems to have a few more steps than the Italian ethos, but the end result is the same – delicious food that is easier than you think!
We started with a whole chicken to be used in at least three different dinners. The breasts will be used in one dish, the thighs and wings in a second dish, and the scrapings of the carcass as part of a third. The carcass itself is going to be used to make chicken stock.
This time, we are going to use the thighs and wings in a coq au vin. Okay, I know it isn’t actually a coq au vin because I am not using an old tough rooster (“coq” en francais) but instead a chicken (“poulet”). This is a braise, so long and slow, which is why the thighs are used since they will benefit more from that as well as add more flavor through the bones in them. This is a long cooking time and somewhat involved recipe, so be warned. The ingredient list is simple, but it will take time to get it all done. I didn’t take as many process pictures as I should have, so I accept a preemptive “Shame on me” now.
Coq au Vin
- 1Lb Chicken, here we used the thighs and wings from our whole bird
- 1/2lb Carrots (Optional)
- 1/2 lb Mushrooms
- 1/2lb Pearl onions or other onions (The pearl onions I had sprouted on me, so I quartered a whole onion)
- 1/4lb Bacon or other cured pork lardons
- 2 Cups Red Wine- Traditionally, this calls for a Burgundy wine, but I used a pinot noir as burgundy is made from pinot noir grapes and I didn’t feel like the extra expense)
- 2 Cups Chicken Stock
- Bouquet Garni (Bay Leaf, Tarragon, Parsley Stems)
- Place chicken in a sealable plastic bag for a quick marinade with one cup of red wine.
- Complete mis-en-place while chicken absorbs a little wine based goodness.
- Render fat from your bacon in a medium or large frying pan. Remove the bacon and set aside.
- Remove chicken from marinade, reserving wine, and brown the chicken in the rendered bacon fat.
- While the chicken is browning, cook the mushrooms briefly in a separate frying or saute pan.
- Remove the chicken and let it rest. Place onions and the optional carrots in the rendered bacon grease and cook, stirring occasionally.
- Layer the mushrooms, onions, optional carrots, and bacon into a casserole or other large pot. Place chicken on top of the bed of veggies. Add the reserved wine, a little fresh wine, the chicken stock, and the bouquet garni. Bring the casserole to a boil and reduce to low, partially covering for an hour and a half. Alternately, you can bring it to a boil and remove to a pre-heated 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for an hour to an hour and a half.
- Check the chicken by making a small incision in the thigh to see if the juices run clear. Remove the chicken to a warming plate tented with foil or back in the oven and strain the casserole, reserving the liquid.
- You have chicken, you have vegetables, but lastly we will now prepare the sauce. Taste the reserved braising liquid to check for seasoning and place half the liquid in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce to get the consistency that you want. Monte au buerre (whisk in a pat of butter) for a velvety rich sauce.
- Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.