Today is National Coq Au Vin Day! For those who don't know Coq Au Vin is a traditional French dish of braised chicken in red wine, traditionally Burgundy. It's a dish Julia Child cooked frequently and helped increase the dish's exposure and popularity.
In honor of the late, great Julia Child I'm using her recipe to make Coq Au Vin for the family tonight.
- 1/2 cup lardons (4 ounces -- 1-by-1/4-inch strips of blanched slab bacon or salt pork - see Special Note below)
- 2 1/2 to 3 pounds frying chicken parts
- 2 tbs. butter
- 1 tbs. olive oil (or good cooking oil)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 or 2 large cloves of garlic, pureed
- 1 imported bay leaf
- 1/4 tsp or so thyme
- 1 large ripe red unpeeled tomato, chopped, (or 1/3 cup canned Italian plum tomatoes)
- 3 cups young red wine (Zinfandel, Macon or Chianti type)
- 1 cup chicken stock (or more)
- Beurre manie, for the sauce (1 1/2 tbs. each flour softened butter blended to a paste)
- Fresh parsley sprigs (or chopped parsley)
- 1/3 cup good brandy (optional)
- 12 to 16 small brown-braised white onions
- 3 cups fresh mushrooms, trimmed, quartered and sautéed
Cooking Directions Browning and simmering the chicken. Before browning the chicken, sauté the blanched bacon or salt pork and remove to a side dish, leaving the fat in the pan. Brown the chicken in the pork fat, adding a little olive oil, if needed. Flame the chicken with the brandy, if you wish -- it does give its own special flavor, besides being fun to do. Then proceed to simmer the chicken in the wine, stock, tomatoes and seasoning as directed in the master recipe.
Finishing the dish. Strain, degrease, and finish the sauce, also as described. Strew the braised onions and sautéed mushrooms over the chicken, baste with the sauce, and simmer a few minutes, basting, to rewarm the chicken and to blend flavors. Special note: To blanch bacon or salt pork: When you use bacon or salt pork in cooking, you want to remove its salt as well as its smoky flavor, which would permeate the rest of the food. To do so, you blanch it -- meaning, you drop it into a saucepan of cold water to cover it by 2 to 3 inches, bring it to the boil, and simmer 5 to 8 minutes; the drain, refresh in cold water, and pat dry in paper towels.