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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Coq au Vin

In the words of Young MC, "I ate so much I nearly split my pants."

No, I'm not on a French kick and yes, this was a lot of work. I've tried America's Test Kitchen recipe before and didn't care for it. They focus on simplicity in the prep, which is nice, but I feel like some elements of long marinade and slow, low cooking are best for this dish. This is particularly true on the thick breasts, which are generally dry and/or tasteless in so many dishes. In this recipe, I combined some techniques from Epicurious, America's Test Kitchen, some other recipes, and my own brain.

Coq au Vin

I Started with a whole chicken, cutting it into pieces. This is not an absolute necessity, since you can also make this dish with pre-cut drumsticks and breasts (all skin on), but you stay truer to form when using a whole chicken. Set pieces aside.

I chopped 2 large carrots, 2 celery stalks, 1 onion, and 4 cloves garlic (minced). I dropped the vegetables into a stock pot, poured in a 750ml bottle of French wine, added 2 bay leaf, 8 peppercorns, and salt. Bring to a boil, lower and cook for about 6-8 minutes.

Pour this into a large flat baking sheet or something that will give you massive surface area. You want the vegetables/liquid to be completely cool before mixing it with the chicken. Alternatively, you can probably let it cool for 30 minutes or so, then pour it into a bowl and place in the fridge for another 20 minutes. The point is you want cool/cold liquid.

Mix in the chicken, submerging it entirely, and cover. Let this go in the fridge and marinate 6-24 hours.

Next day- Take your chicken out of the fridge. Remove each piece and shake off any sticking vegetables (reserve liquid and vegetables). Pat dry with paper towel and add salt and pepper...set aside. Fry up 8 pieces of bacon in a dutch oven. Remove when crispy but not burned. Pour off excess fat (anything more than about 2 tablespoons).

Fry each piece of chicken in the bacon fat, skin side down first, until browned, but not cooked thoroughly. While this is happening, strain the vegetables from the liquid - reserve both.

After you've browned your chicken, remove it to a plate. Add vegetables to pot and brown up for 3-4 minutes. Then add about 1/4 cup flour and stir for 1-2 minutes. Then add your reserved wine-marinade and stir, scraping up sucs from the bottom of the pot. Add 1-2 cans of chicken broth (I use Swanson's canned), and continue stirring, bringing to a boil. Add chicken, reduce heat, cover and place in 350 degree oven for at least 2 hours, but even longer is good.

When your chicken has about 20 minutes left, start making your mushrooms and pearl onions. You can use frozen pearls, so long as they're thawed first. As for mushrooms, I prefer the combination of Oyster and Crimini, but you choose what you like. I used about a brown paper sack full of mushrooms, and about 1 cup of pearl onions. Season both with salt and pepper.

Add 1/2 stick of butter to smoking hot pan and fry up mushrooms for 5-7 minutes. Remove to bowl. Add pearl onions and fry up 2-3 minutes. Remove to same bowl.

When your chicken is done, remove pieces and set on plate. Strain the liquid into a large bowl, and then put the liquid only back into your dutch oven. Add mushrooms and onions and heat on medium, add some fresh herbs like tarragon, thyme and Italian parsley, add chicken and reduce heat to low for another 10-15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, if necessary.

Serve garnished with small pieces of bacon together with mashed potatoes or crusty bread.

Drink wine with this!


~ Brock

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