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Coq au Vin (chicken cooked in wine)

Coq au Vin

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Serves 6 to 8.
By Dennis W. Viau; modified from several recipes.

Coq au vin is chicken cooked in wine, typically red wine. There are many variations. Some include vegetables such as chopped celery and carrots. Others are served over egg noodles. Many recipes call for bacon that is not hickory smoked, which is not easy to find in the local grocery store; so I substituted pancetta. My own unique addition is prosciutto. Although this dish is typically made with chicken pieces with the bone in, I filet it for easy eating.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons whole or clarified butter
2½ ounces (71g) smoke-free bacon or pancetta
2½ ounces (71g) prosciutto
1 chicken, 5 to 7 pounds (about 2 to 3 kg)
Salt and pepper
½ cup (60ml) cognac or brandy
½ to 1 bottle (375ml) dry red wine (pinot noir, Burgundy, Côtes du Rhône)
2 to 3 cups (350 to 475ml) chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 to 3 cloves garlic; minced
About 5 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dry)
1 bay leaf (2 if small)
20 to 30 pearl onions (about 4 ounces/113g)
½ pound (227g) small mushrooms, such as cremini
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter; at room temperature
Optional:
Vegetables (onion, celery, carrots; chopped)
Parsley, for garnish
Egg noodles

Directions:

Melt the butter in a deep saucepan over medium-low heat. Chop the prosciutto and pancetta. Sauté the meats until lightly browned. Remove from the pan and set aside, retaining the fat in the pan.

Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Increase the heat under the pan and brown the chicken on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Return about half the prosciutto and panchetta to the pan, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook 10 minutes, turning the chicken pieces after the first 5 minutes.

Remove the cover from the pan and increase the heat to medium low. Standing back from the pan, pour the cognac (or brandy) into the pan and then let the alcohol evaporate a minute or two. If you ignite it with a flame, you’ll have a large flambé, which isn’t necessary for this dish. The flambé is more for show.

Add the wine to the pan and enough stock to cover the chicken. Add the tomato paste, garlic, and herbs. Stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, 25 to 30 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and thoroughly cooked. Then remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Skim the fat from the pan.

While the chicken is cooking, peel the onions and either quarter or slice the mushrooms.

Increase the heat under the saucepan to medium-high and boil the sauce to reduce the liquid to a little more than half it’s original volume. It should be about 2¼ cups (530ml).

Remove from the heat and discard the bay leaf. If you prefer, you can strain the liquid to remove the other solids for a smooth sauce. Adjust for salt, if necessary.

Blend the butter and flour together to form a smooth paste. Transfer some of the pan liquid to a bowl and swirl a little, if necessary, to cool slightly. Add the butter paste and combine thoroughly with a whisk to make a slurry. Add the slurry to the saucepan and combine into the liquid. Bring the liquid to a boil and simmer to thicken. It should be slightly thick, enough to coat the back of a spoon, without being thick like a gravy.

Return the chicken to the pan and add the mushrooms and onions. Stir to coat.

Meanwhile, cook the egg noodles according to package directions, if using. During the final few minutes of cooking, heat the coq au vin, simmering it slowly 4 to 5 minutes to heat the chicken thoroughly and cook the onions and mushrooms.

Either arrange the chicken and sauce in a serving bowl and serve at the table, or plate the cooked noodles and top with chicken and sauce. Garnish with a little chopped fresh parsley, if desired, and serve immediately.