Coq au Vin

Coq au Vin is usually made with an older chicken, one that is hardier and more flavoursome. If you can get one you will experience the real cleverness of this dish but if not, choose a free range or organic chicken to show this recipe off at its best. After all, you’re putting a whole bottle of good Burgundy into it, so you may as well make the most of it.

Serves 6

Ingredients

25g flour
6 oz butter, preferably unsalted
2 tablespoons of olive oil (it helps to stop the butter burning)
1 packet of streaky bacon or a piece weighing about 100g (4oz)
10 pickled onions, drained from vinegar and rinsed
8 button mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced thickly
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 bottle of red Burgundy
3 sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

1. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and dust them with flour (put the flour on a large plate and turn the chicken in the flour to coat them lightly).

2. Melt most of the butter with the olive oil in a large casserole or cast iron dutch oven leaving a little aside (you will need it to fry the mushrooms). Fry the bacon and onions until lightly golden. Remove to a plate.

3. Fry the chicken pieces in batches in the same pan, removing them when they are brown. If you need to, add a little more butter and olive oil as you go.

4. While the chicken is frying, take a small frying pan and fry the mushrooms until lightly golden.

5. Add the garlic to the large pan in which you seared the chicken and fry briefly. Add a little of the burgundy to the pan and use a wooden spoon to lift any of the crispy bits from the bottom of the pan (this is called deglazing the pan and lifts any residue on the bottom of the pan into the sauce to add flavour).

6. Return the chicken to the pan and add the rest of the bottle of burgundy. Bring to the boil and skim off any froth from the top with a large spoon.

7. Return the bacon, onions and mushrooms to the pan with the thyme sprigs and the bay leaf. Put the lid on or else cover it tightly with foil. Simmer over a medium to low heat for 40-50 minutes or until the chicken is cooked and beginning to fall off the bone. If the sauce is not reduced enough, remove the chicken and vegetables to a plate, increase the heat and reduce the sauce and return the chicken and vegetables to the pan to reheat before serving. Remove the thyme sprigs before you bring the dish to the table if you wish.

Recipe note:

1. You can add a few tablespoons of Marc de Bourgogne to this dish to make it even more authentic. Marc is a drink made from in a still, a bit like poitin. The winemaker presses the skins, seeds of pulp of the grapes that are left over after the wine is made. It’s very robust, a bit like brandy and it adds character to this dish. It’s hard to get your hands on, but if you are in Burgundy you could ask a winemaker for a little bottle to take home.

2. You can also add chicken liver to this dish to enrich the sauce. When the chicken is almost cooked, fry about 2 oz of chicken livers in butter until they are seared well on the outside but pink inside. Puree them with a little of the hot sauce from the pan, strain and pour it back into the pan. Stir gently.

3. You can remove the skin from the chicken if you wish before cooking.

4. We always use pickled onions from a jar for this dish as it is hard to find fresh baby onions – rinse them first or you will change the balance of the dish. If you wish, you can use baby shallots instead.

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