Coq au Vin, or chicken with wine, is a classic French dish that can be made as many ways as there are days in a year. The ingredients remain largely the same, but some marinate the chicken overnight, others make quick recipes, and most fall somewhere in between. But regardless of marinating or cooking time, if made well, coq au vin is one of the most delicious comfort foods of all time. I can’t imagine a better dish for a Fall Sunday with family and friends. Just imagine that tender, juicy, fall-off-the-bone chicken coupled with a deep, dark, rich sauce accented with the earthy flavors of onion and mushroom. C’est encroyable! (It’s incredible!)
But you don’t have to imagine how it tastes, just try this recipe and you will be bowled over by how good coq au vin can be. While my recipe discards the vegetables used in the cooking process, you are welcome to leave them in if you prefer (it’s not like they won’t be delicious). If you decide to do so, cut the carrots, celery and whole onion into slightly smaller pieces so they’ll be easier to eat. Do discard the bay leaves before serving, and you might consider removing the garlic cloves from their skins and chopping before adding back in. One final tip: seasoning is absolutely key to this recipe. Don’t skimp on the salt and pepper in the final seasoning. If the sauce tastes a bit boring, add more salt & pepper.
Now go make some amazing chicken!
Whitney’s Coq au Vin:
6 slices of bacon
6 bone-in chicken thighs (skin on or off)
4 large garlic coves, whole with skin on but slightly smashed
1 ½ cups cooked pearl onions (fresh or frozen)
¾ lb button or cremini mushrooms, quartered
1 bottle of light red wine, preferably pinot noir
1 ½ Tbsp tomato paste
2 cups chicken broth
1 medium-sized onion, quartered
2 medium carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise and cut into 3” segments
2 stalks celery, ends removed, halved lengthwise and cut into 3” segments
2 bay leaves
a roux made by mixing together 2 Tbsp softened butter with 2 Tbsp flour until smooth mixture forms buttered wide egg noodles and chopped fresh parsley for serving
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (if you have a convection mode, turn it on using the same temperature).
In a large skillet, cook the bacon slices over medium high heat until brown and the fat is well rendered. When bacon is done, remove to a paper-lined plate to drain and cool. In the bacon fat, sauté the pearl onions until browned lightly, about 3-4 minutes. Remove to a bowl and set aside. In the same skillet, sauté the mushrooms, adding a tablespoon of butter if needed, untll they are browned and giving up their juices, about 4-5 minutes. Remove to the same bowl with the onions.
Season the chicken pieces generously with salt and pepper on both sides. In the same skillet, adding a tablespoon of olive oil if needed, add the chicken thighs, skin side or pretty side down. When well browned (about 3 minutes), turn the pieces over and brown thoroughly on the other side (about another 3 minutes). Remove chicken pieces and place in the bottom of a Dutch oven or ovenproof pot. Brown the garlic cloves in the juices for 3-4 minutes until the skins have brown spots, then put in the Dutch oven with the chicken pieces.
Deglaze the skillet with one cup of the red wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Allow the wine to reduce by about 1/3, then stir in the tomato paste until nicely mixed. Arrange the quartered, raw onion, celery pieces, carrot pieces, garlic cloves and bay leaves around the chicken in the Dutch oven. Pour the wine and tomato mixture over, then add the remaining wine and chicken stock. Lightly move the pot’s contents to allow juices to mix, but do not stir. Cover the pot with its lid, place in the oven, and allow to cook undisturbed at a light simmer for 2 hours.
Remove from the oven, remove chicken pieces to a plate and strain the sauce through a sieve. Discard the solids, and put the liquid cooking juices back in the Dutch oven. Place the pot on the stove and bring to a low boil over medium high heat. Reduce to medium, maintaining that low boil, and reduce approximately 1/3, about 10 minutes. Using a whisk, add the roux, half at a time, and continue to stir until butter has melted and it is completely incorporated into the sauce. Sauce will thicken as it cooks. Once roux is fully incorporated, cook for another 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Be generous with both salt & pepper until it tastes heavenly. Break the bacon pieces into small pieces, and add to the liquid along with the reserved mushrooms and pearl onions. Reduce heat to medium low and heat until everything is warmed through, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to the package instructions. Drain when done and toss with a tablespoon of butter. Divide the noodles equally into four individual bowls, place one chicken thigh in each and ladle the sauce with plenty of mushrooms and onions in each bowl. Sprinkle the top of each bowl with some fresh chopped parsley and serve with crusty French bread to mop up the sauce.
[Note: The extra two thighs are for the hungry ones that want seconds or as a great leftover the next day.]