23 February 2011

Coq Au Vin

My mom came to visit this weekend and since she and Shawn had Monday off (I did not), we decided to make a nice Sunday dinner in honor of her visit. As you may have noticed, I like to shop the sales at New Seasons. Whole chicken legs were on sale and after some searching through Cook's Illustrated, I settled on a classic recipe I'd never attempted--coq au vin. Although there is another recipe on the cooksillustrated.com website for a so-called modern version that cuts the time in half, it used boneless, skinless chicken thighs--much more expensive than the legs. 

Serve over egg noodles--this is supposed to serve only 4. Um...4 giants?
After spending 2 1/2 hours in the kitchen Sunday afternoon and picking out chicken skin from the dish, I can understand the updated recipe. I also made a seemingly large error right in the beginning. The instructions said to simmer the wine and chicken broth together until it is reduced to 4 cups. Well, earlier in the same step, it says to generously season the chicken legs. Set aside. See, those two little words get lost in the page of instructions that went along with the recipe! Cook's Illustrated--would it kill you to add a step? This is not the first time I've missed something like that. I thought it was odd to be boiling the chicken, but it was my first time making it and I was trying to install Office onto our new iMac (eeee!) at the same time. Lesson learned... 

Shawn and mom waiting for me to stop taking pictures and dish it out already. Notice the beautiful tablecloth my aunt sent us for our wedding (made by my grandmother).

Those French really know how to cook...just keep adding butter. Look how shiny!

Coq Au Vin
If you have the time to blanch and skin them, fresh pearl onions are terrific. Simply cut an “x” in the root end, blanch them in boiling water for 30 seconds, remove them with a slotted spoon, and refresh them in a bowl of ice water. Then slice off the very tip of the roots with a paring knife and squeeze the onions gently from the blossom end. They will pop right out of their skins.

4 chicken leg quarters (about 3 pounds), carefully trimmed of all fat, cleaned, dried, and thighs and drumsticks separated
1 bottle fruity, smooth, medium-bodied red wine (750ML), such as Oregon Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, or a light Rhone valley wine
2 1/2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium canned chicken broth
6 ounces bacon (preferably thick-cut), cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
6 - 7 tablespoons unsalted butter , at room temperature
1 large carrot , roughly chopped
1 large onion , roughly chopped
2 medium shallots , peeled and quartered
2 medium cloves garlic , skin on and smashed
1 teaspoon dried thyme
10 parsley stems
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
24 frozen pearl onions (evenly sized), thawed, or fresh pearl onions
1/2 pound white mushrooms (small), washed and halved if medium sized, quartered if large
2 - 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves

1. Generously sprinkle chicken pieces with salt and ground black pepper; set aside. Bring red wine and chicken stock to boil in large, heavy saucepan; reduce heat to medium-high and simmer until reduced to about 4 cups, about 20 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, fry bacon in large Dutch oven or deep, heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium heat until fat has rendered and bacon is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove bacon with slotted spoon to paper towel-lined plate to drain; set aside. Heat 1 tablespoon butter with rendered bacon fat; add carrot, onion, shallots, and garlic and sauté until lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Following illustration 1 below, press vegetables against side of pan with slotted spoon to squeeze out as much fat as possible; transfer vegetables to pan with reduced wine mixture (off heat) and discard all but 1 tablespoon fat from Dutch oven or sauté pan.

3. Return Dutch oven or sauté pan to burner over medium-high heat and add another 1 tablespoon butter. When butter is melted, add chicken (in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding) and cook until well browned all over, turning once or twice during cooking, 12 to 16 minutes. Remove chicken to a plate; set aside. Pour off all fat from Dutch oven or sauté pan; return to heat and add wine-vegetable mixture. Bring to boil, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan with wooden spoon (see illustration 2, below). Add browned chicken, bouquet garni (thyme, parsley, and bay leaf tied together), and tomato paste to boiling wine mixture; return to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer gently, partially covered. Turn chicken once during cooking, until tender and infused with wine flavor, 45 to 60 minutes.

4. While chicken and sauce are cooking, heat another 2 tablespoons butter in medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add pearl onions and cook, stirring occasionally and reducing heat if butter starts to brown too fast, until lightly browned and almost cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes. Add mushrooms, season with salt, cover, increase heat to medium, and cook until mushrooms release their liquid, about 5 minutes. Remove cover, increase heat to high, and boil until liquid evaporates and onions and mushrooms are golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes more. Transfer onions and mushrooms to plate with bacon; set aside.

5. When the chicken is cooked, transfer to serving bowl or platter; cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. Following illustration 3, below, strain sauce through fine mesh sieve set over large measuring cup, pressing on solids with wooden spoon to release as much liquid as possible; sauce should measure 2 to 3 cups. Return sauce to pan; skim as much fat as possible off surface. Counting 1 tablespoon each of butter and flour for each cup of sauce, mash 2 to 3 tablespoons each butter and flour in small bowl or plate to make a beurre manié, as shown in illustration 4. Bring sauce to boil and whisk in beurre manié until smooth. Add reserved chicken, bacon, onions and mushrooms; adjust seasoning with salt and ground black pepper to taste, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer very gently to warm through and blend flavors, about 5 minutes. Check seasoning one more time and adjust with additional salt and ground black pepper if necessary; add parsley. Transfer chicken to serving platter; pour sauce over chicken. Serve immediately.

1 comment:

  1. I love coq au vin! Cooking Light has an easy version, too, that calls for chicken legs.