Elegantly Comforting: Coq Au Vin

The perfect pot: Staub Coq Au Vin Cocotte

‘Twas a cold and overcast Saturday (by California standards, anyway!), and put me in hibernation mode. What better way to hibernate than with a nice, hearty classic Coq Au Vin? I used Julia’s recipe, below, and I made it in one of my favorite, most versatile (and beautiful) pieces of cookware, the Staub 5 3/4 Quart Coq Au Vin Cocotte, Grenadine.

Julia Child’s Coq Au Vin
from From Julia Child’s Kitchen
(Alfred A. Knopf, 1979)
Serves 4 to 6

1/2 cup lardons* (or bacon), cut into 1/4 by 1 1/2-inch strips (optional)
2 or more tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 pounds ready-cut frying chicken (a selection of parts, or all of one kind), thoroughly dried
1/4 cup Cognac or Armagnac
Salt and pepper
1 imported bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
16 to 20 small white onions, peeled
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups red wine (Burgundy, Côtes du Rhône, or Pinot Noir)
About 2 cups brown chicken stock or beef bouillon
1 or 2 cloves garlic, mashed or minced
About 1 tablespoon tomato paste
3/4 pound fresh mushrooms, trimmed, washed, and quartered

From Julia Child’s Kitchen by Julia Child. If you are using lardons, saute several minutes in 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy-bottomed casserole until lightly browned; remove lardons to a side dish and leave fat in pan. (Otherwise, film pan with 1/8 inch of oil.)

2. Heat fat or oil in pan to moderately hot, add chicken, not crowding pan; turn frequently to brown nicely on all sides. Pour in the Cognac, shake pan a few seconds until bubbling hot, then ignite Cognac with a match. Let flame a minute, swirling pan by its handle to burn off alcohol; extinguish with pan cover.

3. Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper; add bay leaf and thyme. Place onions around the chicken. Cover and cook slowly 10 minutes, turning once.

4. Uncover pan and sprinkle on the flour, turning chicken and onions so flour is absorbed; cook 3 to 4 minutes more, turning once or twice.

5. Remove from heat, gradually stir and swirl in the wine and enough stock or bouillon to almost cover the chicken. Add the browned lardons, garlic, and tomato paste to the pan. Cover and simmer slowly 25 to 30 minutes, then test chicken; remove those pieces that are tender, and continue cooking the rest a few minutes longer. If onions are not quite tender, continue cooking them; then return all chicken to the pan, add mushrooms, and simmer 4 to 5 minutes. Taste carefully, and correct seasoning. Sauce should be just thick enough to coat chicken and vegetables lightly. If too thin, boil down rapidly to concentrate; if too thick, thin out with spoonfuls of bouillon.

Coq Au Vin for a January night

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