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I feel like chicken tonight . . . . .

Coq au VinIf ever there was a dish that screams French rustic cuisine it is this weeks dish - Coq au Vin or chicken cooked in a red wine sauce. Coq au Vin hails from the Dijon region, in the Burgundy area of France and recipes for this tremendous French classic, yet rustic dish, are probably more varied than any other dish, with every French housewife, farmer's wife or food writer having their own . . . often handed down from generation to generation.

One recipe that I have from a 1900s cookbook calls for the sauce to be thickened with the blood of the chicken . . . fear not! My recipe won't! Though this method is not so unusual, it is or was used quite often. The thickening happens via the coagulation or thickening of the blood as it is exposed to the air. The most famous of foods or dishes to use this method is jugged hare and black pudding (also called blutwurst or blood sausage in Germany).

If you have ever had this dish while on holiday in France and you have never quite been able to replicate it at home there is good reason for it. What makes this dish so flavourful is that a cockerel is used and not just a chicken, hence the name Coq au Vin and not Poulet au Vin or Volaille au Vin.

Probably no one else in the world takes such care and pride of their poultry as the French, to the point where it is their national symbol with the cockerel being proudly emblazoned on their sports shirts. If sometime you want a chicken that tastes like no other then try one from Bresse, where they are raised like royalty, corn fed and are under the control of an 'Appellation d'Origine Controlée' - a government board that is normally reserved for wines and a very few other delicacies.

The reason for this week's Coq au Vin recipe is twofold. Firstly, I was emailed by a Jennifer B who is researching the dish for a fictional book she is writing. Secondly, because here in the Antipodes today (Sunday) it's the final of the rugby league and the New Zealand Warriors are up against the Sydney Roosters . . . so everything pointed to this as the recipe of the week. Go the Warriors . . . !

Ingredients for Coq au Vin

cockerel or chicken (2kg)
red burgundy
garlic cloves - in their skins
bay leaf
thyme sprig
peppercorns - black
bacon - smoked streaky
celery stick
chicken stock
mushrooms - white button
parsley - chopped

How to make Coq au Vin

  • Cut the chicken into pieces and marinade over night in the red wine with the garlic cloves (lightly bruise them by pressing lightly on them with a knife), the bay leaf, thyme and savory sprigs

  • Season the flour with a little salt and pepper (try some Maldon sea salt and freshly milled pepper)

  • Drain the chicken pieces (keeping the marinade) and pass them through the seasoned flour

  • Gently heat 50gm of the butter and lightly fry the chicken pieces for a minute or two; just to brown them. This browning caramelises the outside and adds so much more flavour to the final dish

  • Remove the chicken pieces from the pan and place in an earthenware dish (this must have a tight fitting lid)

  • Gently heat another 50gm of the butter and lightly fry the bacon (cut into thick strips) with the chopped onion and celery, drain and place into the earthenware dish

  • The frying pan should now have a nice amount of sediment at the bottom of it, these are caramelised flavours and need to be part of the sauce. This can be achieved by 'de-glazing'; add a little of the red wine marinade (approx. 50 ml) to the hot pan this will lift the sediment of the pan base

  • Add the remaining butter, once melted add the flour and stir to remove any lumps

  • Pour in the remainder of the marinade and simmer while stirring for 5 minutes

  • Add the stock and pour over the chicken, place the herbs and garlic on the top

  • Place on the tight fitting lid and place in the oven (170ºC) and cook slowly until the chicken is tender (30 - 90 minutes depending on the chicken's tenderness)

  • Remove the chicken and place on a tray, pour the sauce into a clean saucepan and simmer until lightly thickened

  • Add the whole button mushrooms, chicken and chopped parsley, simmer for 1 minute and serve

Chef's Tip for Coq au Vin:

The tendency always is to use a cheap red wine for cooking, however the better the wine the better the dish will be. Therefore use this dish for special occasions and use the best wine you can afford. That said, sometimes these days cask wines can have quite a nice fruitiness to them.

My advice is to taste, try the wine and use what tastes good to you . . . we all have different palates and what taste good to one person will not to another. Expensive wines are not necessarily going to guarantee a good wine, unless you go to true vintages

Enjoy your Coq au Vin and bon appetit . . . . .

Chef's terminology:

litres   tsp = teaspoon
millelitres   tbs = tablespoon
kilograms   sq = sufficient quantity (add to taste)
grams   pc = piece, meaning a whole one of

Recipe from professional
Chef Tallyrand

Email Hub-UK : info@hub-uk.com