The French – love ‘em or hate ‘em – are very cool. They use wine in everything – and why not – they are still the best producer of quality wines in the world. They have also somehow convinced us use the names of their dishes without any translation – like Coq Au Vin. This is a classic chicken dish cooked in red wine with a sexy name that we all know. Maybe the sexy name helps, but – make no mistake about it – this dish really is a classic and the audience will go wild when you serve it to them.
The preparation starts with a whole chicken(s), cut up into pieces. You can either do the butchering yourself or you can always find a whole cut chicken at the supermarket. The latter is the easiest choice. You then dice and cook some bacon, and brown the chicken pieces in the bacon fat, to which you have, in true French fashion, added a little butter for flavor.
Once the chicken is browned, you cook it in a bottle of rich red wine and some chicken broth. When the chicken is ready, you remove and set aside while you reduce the sauce by about one-half. This red wine reduction is the key to the dish. When this process is complete, you return the chicken to the pot, add sautéed mushrooms and roasted pearl onions and serve.
Not surprisingly, the red wine changes the color of the chicken so the dish has a unique look, which is sort of fun in itself. You will get some comments because many people have never tried this dish even though they all know the name.
As Julia Child points out, this dish is almost always served with boiled potatoes seasoned with parsley and a little butter. The reason is simple – the sauce is so rich and creamy that you naturally tend to mash the potatoes and add an additional dollop of the reduced red wine sauce.
The recipe below is for 4 – 6 servings. If you are having a bigger party and want to double the recipe, use two pots. The sauce does not reduce well if you have a lot of liquid in one pot. Once the reduction is done, you can combine everything into one pot for serving.
Bravado Level of Difficulty: 4.0 out of 10
Time Required: 2 hours
- One whole chicken, cut into pieces.
- ½ lb. bacon, diced
- 6 tbsp. butter
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. pepper
- ½ cup Cognac or brandy
- 1 bottle of red wine, Cabernet, Rhone or Syrah
- 16 oz. of chicken stock
- 1 tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 tsp. fresh Thyme leaves
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and mashed.
- 2 Bay leaves
- 1 lb. frozen pearl onions
- 1-1.2 lbs. white mushrooms, stems removed and cut into bite size pieces.
- 3 tbsp. flour
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Defrost the pearl onions and brown over medium high heat in 2 tbsp. of butter and one tbsp. of olive oil – about 8 minutes. Put onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Set aside when finished.
- Trim excess fat off the chicken pieces, wash in cold water and dry with paper towels.
- Cook the bacon over medium high heat in a Dutch oven or stockpot until crispy and brown. Use a slotted spoon to remove and set aside.
- Add 2 tbsp. of butter to the bacon fat and brown the chicken pieces for about 3-4 minutes, turning once or twice.
- Add the salt and pepper, reduce the heat to medium and cover and cook for 10 minutes. Stir and turn a couple of times.
- Uncover, add the Cognac and light, shaking the pan and calling anyone nearby to watch. Have kitchen fire extinguisher handy.
- Add wine, chicken stock, thyme, Bay leaves and garlic.
- Blend the flour and 2 tbsp. of butter; whisk into the liquid in the pot.
- Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes.
- When chicken pieces are cooked and tender (check with fork), remove from the liquid with tongs and set aside.
- Turn the heat to high and reduce liquid to about one-half the original amount – about 15-20 minutes.
- While the sauce is reducing, sauté the mushrooms over high heat in 2 tbsp. of butter and one tbsp. of olive oil – about 5 minutes. Drain off any excess liquid.
- Turn the heat off and return the chicken to the pot along with the mushrooms, onions and bacon bits. Stir well. Warm everything for a few minutes just before serving. Serve with boiled parsley potatoes.
As the wonderful aromas fill the kitchen, once again we have the problem of women swooning with that star glazed look in their eyes. It’s tough being a Bravado chef.