Coq Au Vin is one of those recipes that can seem complex and intimidating. For many people it is the first thing they think about when they think of French cuisine. The truth is that neither Coq Au Vin or French cuisine have to be complicated or frightening. And there are as many variations of Coq Au Vin as there are cooks who make it. There is only one rule that you cannot forego and that's the two main ingredients you must use in order to make it - chicken and wine. What parts of chicken you use or what wine you soak it in - is entirely up to you.
I like to marinate my Coq Au Vin in my favourite wine which happens to be Pinot Gris. Because Pinot Gris is not as strong as red wine, I leave it in the fridge for 2 days. Then it soaks up all the wonderful fruity, crisp nuances of wine and releases it when it hits the hot, sizzling, flavourful duck fat melted in the skillet. I like to use pearl onions in this dish because they masterfully withstand the heat and don't fall apart. They create a lovely contrast to the rest of the vegetables that become soft and buttery. I always take the time to make it more French by putting together a bouquet garni (a small bundle of herbs tied together with a string). If you do not have all the required herbs on hand, add 1 tablespoon of Herbes de Provence. It will give your Coq Au Vin that wonderful earthy aroma that will complement your chicken superbly. Coq Au Vin is that comfort food you need on a chilly fall evening. It will gather your friends and family at the table and provoke some great conversations. Just make sure to have plenty of rustic bread and wine. Table cloth and fine china are optional. Laughter, good memories and bonding will happen regardless whether you have them or not.
1 bottle of Pinot Gris,
2 celery stalks,
1 large carrot,
15 pearl onions,
3 cloves of garlic,
2 tbsp. of duck fat,
1 large chicken or 10 chicken thighs,
3 tbsp. four, bay leaf,
5 sprigs of thyme,
1 pound of button mushrooms,
2 cups of chicken broth.
Salt, pepper to taste.
In a shallow dish place chicken, chopped into pieces. Add chopped celery, carrot, garlic and some pepper. Pour wine over chicken and vegetables and cover with a plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 days.
After 2 days, remove chicken from the marinate and pat it dry. Take out the vegetables and keep them aside. In a large pot melt the duck fat. Once heated, add chicken and sauté until brown on both sides. Fry chicken in two batches so you do not overcrowd the pot and the browning takes place. Remove the chicken and add vegetables that came from the marinade. Scrape all the bits that form at the bottom of your pot. Once the vegetables soften, add pearl onions and let them cook for another 5 minutes. Mix in the flour, stir till vegetables are coated. Whisk in the wine where the chicken was marinating and bring to simmer. Add your herbs, bay leaves, broth, chicken and stirring occasionally, cook for 40 minutes.
In a separate skillet sauté your button mushrooms till cooked. Add a sprig of thyme for extra flavour.
Transfer the chicken to a plate. Remove the bouquet garni or the thyme sprigs from the sauce and let it simmer for another 10 minutes, till reduced. Season, return chicken to the sauce and add button mushrooms. Arrange in a serving platter, garnished with some thyme and parsley.