Coq au Vin
Recipe from 'Foolproof French Cookery’ by Raymond Blanc. Click here to purchase book.
This dish demonstrates what is really good about French cuisine – conviviality, friends and laughter, simple hearty food, rustic bread dipped into the sauce and the heady red wine that will be drunk. Time stops. That is why this dish has become totally timeless and loved by most. Despite a certain degree of complication, it is a must for a fantastic dinner party.
Preparation: 1 hour, plus 24 hours' marinating.
|1.5kg||Chicken, (free range or organic), cut into 10 pieces (ask your butcher to prepare this)|
|1 heaped tbsp||Plain flour|
|2 tbsp||Olive oil|
|2 pinches||Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper|
|For the marinade|
|1 litre||Full-bodied red wine, such as Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon|
|3||Medium carrots, cut into slanted slices 1 cm (1/2 in) thick|
|2||Celery sticks, cut into slices 1 cm (1/2 in) thick|
|20||Baby onions, peeled but left whole|
|1||Bouquet garni (parsley stalks, 2 bay leaves, 6 sprigs thyme tied together)|
|1 tsp||Black peppercorns, crushed|
|For the garnish|
|1 tbsp||Olive oil|
|200g||Smoked streaky bacon, rind removed, diced|
|400g||Small button mushrooms, trimmed|
|1 tbsp||Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley|
Marinating the chicken
Bring the red wine to the boil and boil until reduced by a third, to remove the alcohol and concentrate the colour and flavour. Leave to cool. In a bowl, mix the chicken pieces, carrots, celery, baby onions, peppercorns and bouquet garni together and pour the cooled red wine over them. Cover with cling film, refrigerate and leave to marinate for 24 hours. Place a colander over a large bowl and put the chicken mixture in it to drain off the marinade. Leave for a minimum of 1 hour to remove excess liquid. Separate the chicken, vegetables and herbs, and pat dry with kitchen paper. Season the chicken with 4 pinches of salt and 4 pinches of freshly ground black pepper. Reserve the liquid.
Toasting the flour
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Sprinkle the flour on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 8–10 minutes, until it is very lightly coloured. Set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 150°C/300°F/Gas Mark 2.
Frying the chicken
On a high heat, in a large, heavy-based casserole, heat the olive oil and colour the chicken pieces in it for 5–7 minutes on each side. With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside. Add the drained vegetables and herbs to the casserole. Lower the heat to medium high and cook for 5 minutes, until lightly coloured.
Making the sauce
Spoon out most of the fat from the casserole, add the toasted flour and stir into the vegetables for a few seconds. On a medium heat, whisk in the wine marinade little by little; this will create a sauce and prevent lumps forming. Bring to the boil and skim any impurities from the surface. The wine marinade will be slightly thickened and have the consistency of a light sauce. Add the chicken pieces and return to the boil. Cover with a lid and cook in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes.
Finishing the sauce
If you wish you can serve the coq au vin as it is. But should you prefer a richer, more powerful sauce, drain it through a colander and, on a high heat, boil the sauce until it has reduced by one third. It should have acquired more body and become a rich, vinous colour. Pour the sauce back over the chicken and vegetables.
Cooking the garnish
Over a medium heat, in a medium non-stick frying pan, heat the olive oil and cook the diced bacon in it for 30 seconds. Add the button mushrooms and cook for a further 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix the diced bacon and button mushrooms into the coq au vin. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve piping hot, straight from the casserole.
Recipe from 'Foolproof French Cookery' by Raymond Blanc, published by BBC Books.
Recipe © Raymond Blanc 2002.
Photograph © Jean Cazals 2002.