Yesterday was a pretty great day, all in all. David and I spent the afternoon at Bed, Bath & Beyond and The Chopping Block, picking up all sorts of odds and ends that I’m very excited about, and then I made dinner. After receiving all of the cookbooks at Christmas, I knew I wanted to try something new. After a lot of debate, I settled on coq au vin. Even then, I had a choice to make, because I had two competing recipes for coq au vin, Ina Garten’s from the Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics cookbook, and Casey’s coq au vin from the Top Chef Cookbook.
I’ve never had coq au vin, though it’s been on my list of things to try for quite some time now (in part, I think I was waiting and hoping for a dutch oven, but I’m glad I went forward without it). I decided to make the Barefoot Contessa version, since it seemed to be more true to the original dish. It was a good decision.
Dinner last night was, quite honestly, one of the most delicious things I’ve eaten in a very long time.
Coq Au Vin
Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics by Ina Garten
- 2 tablespoons good quality olive oil
- 4 ounces good bacon or pancetta, diced
- 3 1/2 lbs skin on, bone in chicken thighs
- 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 (frozen onions weren’t available at our sore, so I used ones from a jar)
- 1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, stems removed and thickly sliced (I skipped the mushrooms)
Preheat the oven to 275 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 a single layer for about 5 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Remove the chicken to the plate with the bacon. 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 carefully light with a match to burn off the alcohol. Carefully.
Add the bacon, chicken, and any juices that collected on the plate back 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 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.
Note: I served this dish with herbed mashed potatoes (my own recipe, below) and a crusty loaf of italian bread, to soak up all of the sauce. The only Burgandy available at our local wine shop was $41 a bottle, so we went with a different dry french red that the shop recommended, a Cotes du Rhone. It was dry, and flavorful, but without a fruit taste, which was exactly what this dish needed. I don’t have a good dutch oven, as I mentioned, but because the recipe you see above was cut in half from the original, I was able to put it all together in a deep, oven-safe skillet with a lid.
I will absolutely make this dish again. It was unbeliveably good, and a perfect end to a rainy day. The chicken was perfectly cooked, the vegetables had great flavor and the sauce was rich and smooth. A glamorous, gourmet sort of comfort food.
Herbed Mashed Potatoes
My own recipe
- 4-5 large yukon gold potatoes, washed, peeled, and cubed
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 stick butter
- salt & pepper to taste
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped and finely chopped.
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
Place the cubed potatoes in a pot of cold, salted water and bring to a boil. Boil until fork tender, about 20-25 minutes.
Drain, and return to the hot pot, to remove any excess water. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Add half the butter and half the cream and mix at medium speed with a hand mixer, until lumps are gone. Add additional butter and cream until desired consistency is reached.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in sour cream and fresh thyme.