Thursday, December 11, 2008

Coq Au Vin--Barefoot Bloggers

December's first Barefoot Blogger's recipe was Coq Au Vin, selected by Bethany of This Little Piggy Went to Market....  I have to confess that this recipe was one I was "lukewarm" about cooking.  Chicken is not my favorite protein to begin with and something about cooking it in red wine and brandy wasn't really doing it for me. However, since I had never tried Coq Au Vin and so far Ina has come through for me with consistently great recipes, I forged ahead.  It was also a little intimidating cooking a classic French dish when my friend Yoko, who is from Japan but has spent the last four years living in Alsace, France would be sampling it. On the other hand, it was nice to have her input, support and familiarity with the dish. 

This recipe can be found here at Food Network or in Barefoot Contessa, Back to Basics, on page 116.  

Coq Au Vin
Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, Ina Garten

2 tablespoons good olive oil
4 ounces good bacon or pancetta, diced
1 (3 to 4-pound) chicken, cut in 8ths
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound carrots, cut diagonally in 1-inch pieces
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/4 cup Cognac or good brandy
1/2 bottle (375 ml) good dry red wine such as Burgundy
1 cup good chicken stock, preferably homemade
10 fresh thyme sprigs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 pound frozen small whole onions
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, stems removed and thickly sliced

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove the bacon to a plate with a slotted spoon.

Meanwhile, lay the chicken out on paper towels and pat dry. Liberally sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. When the bacon is removed, brown the chicken pieces in batches in a single layer for about 5 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Remove the chicken to the plate with the bacon and continue to brown until all the chicken is done. Set aside. Add the carrots, onions, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper to the pan and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac and put the bacon, chicken, and any juices that collected on the plate into the pot. Add the wine, chicken stock, and thyme and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just not pink. Remove from the oven and place on top of the stove.

Mash 1 tablespoon of butter and the flour together and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions. In a medium saute pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and cook the mushrooms over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until browned. Add to the stew. Bring the stew to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes. Season to taste. Serve hot.

Notes/Results:  I squeezed this recipe in on Monday night after a long day that began with an early morning hike up Diamond Head and most of the afternoon in Waikiki and I was pleasantly surprised that it went together pretty easily and didn't use the plethora of dishes, pans, and cooking gear that many of Ina's more involved recipes seem too.  I made it pretty much as stated with a dry red wine, brandy, bacon instead of pancetta, and I could not find any frozen pearl onions (or non-frozen pearl onions for that matter) so I used the scant 1/4 of a package of some I had in the freezer from the pot pie we made previously.  The very nice, young guy at the meat counter at Whole Foods was kind enough to chop my free-range chicken into 8 pieces but from the jagged edges, I won't say it is his best skill--although I am not sure I would have done any better.  

I do have to say that I am not sure how Ina got the wonderful color of her soup liquid in the photo in the cookbook, following the recipe given as mine was much lighter and a bit more purple than brown.  (Is it the miracle of photo shop or did I do something wrong?  I can't wait to see the other BB's broths to compare).

We served it with butter-parsley egg noodles and a simple salad of local greens and tomatoes, tossed with chopped rosemary marcona almonds and a simple vinaigrette. The flavor of the chicken and sauce was excellent, the chicken was moist and perfectly cooked and the broth was yummy (Sickly purple-brown but yummy--which is why it doesn't show much in my pictures!). Good as it is, I am not sure that this would be a recipe I would make again. Yoko mentioned that since Alsace is known for their Riesling, they often make the dish as Coq Au Riesling there, using a white wine and that I might try. It was also nice to have a warming bowl of the leftovers after a long day trip to Maui's cooler up-country yesterday.

I am glad that Bethany picked this recipe as it gave me an opportunity to cook something I have never tried before which I love and is one of the reasons I joined the group.  You can check out how the other Barefoot Bloggers fared with their Coq Au Vins here.


  1. good for you for trying a new recipe!

  2. I'm going to try that. I made her wedding soup last night and, once again, Ina came through. Her recipes are so reliable. I love chicken and coq au vin, so this was bookmarked already, but I love that you "test piloted" it.

  3. It is so funny, I had never heard the term Coq au Riesling before and I came across a recipe for it yesterday - now you mention it today!
    I do love chicken and will give this a try soon. I love your choice of the butter noodles with it.
    Your guests are well fed! :)

  4. yours looks very photogenic. i had some problems making mine look presentable... lol. i liked this also, but not sure i'd rush to make it again.

  5. We loved this recipe.

    I served mine with rice.

  6. Oh, yum! I actually made mine with white wine and thought that was why it was ugly. It was REALLY good with the white wine and boneless, skinless chicken...


  7. It looks great -- serving it with egg noodles was a great idea! Coq a Reisling sounds very intriguing to me. I probably won't make this again either, but it was fun to try it once!

  8. Yours looks delicious! I was fascinated, however, by your walk up Diamond Head! It's so beautiful over there and I am envious that you have that beauty every day! Happy December.

  9. I'm sure it's better with Riesling than Burgundy, but that's just my opinion because I like white wine better than red.

    But I also haven't made mine yet - I'm feeling wishy washy about it as well.


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