Coq au Vin

Serves 6

The French celebrated Bastille Day this week and that, combined with the cold weather, seemed like a very good reason to make coq au vin! Recipes that I have encountered for this hearty French casserole require the entire chicken, chopped up, to be immersed in the pot of wine. I prefer to use skinless chicken pieces as it’s much easier to serve and I don’t have to deal with very unappetising pieces of chicken skin floating about! The authentic recipes go on to say that you should cook with the same bottle of Burgundy that you intend to drink with the meal. I’ll leave that to your discretion, but at the very least, I urge you to use a good bottle of wine and all the ingredients listed here, to get that perfect flavour.

Here’s what goes in

  • 12 skinless chicken thighs (bone in)
  • 1 packet of bacon, diced
  • 6 small onions or shallots
  • 3 tablespoons of flour and 2 tablespoons of chicken seasoning (to coat the chicken)
  • 1 teaspoon of crushed garlic
  • Olive oil for frying
  • 3 cups of chicken stock (750ml)
  • 2 cups of red wine (500ml)
  • Salt for seasoning
  • 1 punnet of portabellini mushrooms
  • 1 Bouquet Garni (Bouquet Garni is traditionally a bunch of marjoram, thyme, origanum, parsley, bay leaves)
  • Serve with French Baguette or other crispy loaf

How to do it

Pre-heat your oven to 180˚C. In a heavy-based, oven-proof pot, fry the bacon bits until they are cooked through, and perhaps even a little crispy. Remove them from the pot with a slotted spoon so that the bacon fat remains. Set them aside. Now fry the garlic and the shallots (or baby onions) in this fat until they are soft and transparent.

Coat the chicken pieces in the flour and seasoning mixture and then add them to the pot, with an extra dash of olive oil, turning them over so each side takes on a golden-brown colour. Return the bacon to the pot and add the Bouquet Garni, a bit of salt, chicken stock and wine until the liquid fully covers the chicken. (If you have chosen to add more chicken because you are feeding a larger group of people, just add more wine and chicken stock). Place the lid on and pop it into the oven for 2 hours. Check the liquid level regularly and give it a bit of a stir every now and then, as you don’t want it to dry out.

At around half the cooking time, add the mushrooms to the pot. After 2 hours, the dish should be saucy and relatively thick. At this point, remember to remove the Bouquet Garni so the sac isn’t mistaken for a mushroom! This dish is traditionally served with crusty French baguette to mop up the delicious sauce.

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