Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Coq au Vin

Years ago this was one of the first meals I made for Haley. To be honest, I think it may have come out better the first time, though it was still quite tasty this time around. Cooks Illustrated (the recipe's origin) says that originally Coq au Vin was a peasants dish. When the cock outlasted it's usefulness, the bird was cooked in a red wine stew. The alcohol in the stew helps to break down the sinewey muscles and produce a rich velvety broth. This incarnation is closer to those humble roots I think, since many modern recipes are very time consuming and use more expensive ingredients. Here is the recipe (taken from Cooks Illustrated, December 2006).

Coq au Vin (served 4 to 6)

1 bottle medium-bodied red wine (I use Pinot Noir)
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
10 sprigs parsley plus 2 tbsp minced
2 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
4 oz bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4 in stips
2.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat and cut in half crosswise
Table salt and ground black pepper
5 tbsp unsalted butter
24 frozen pearl onions, thawed (about 1 cup)
8 oz cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed, and quartered
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp flour

1 Bring all but 1 tbsp wine (reserved for later), broth, parsley sprigs, thyme, and bay leaf to simmer in large saucepan over medium high heat. Cook until reduced to 3 cups, about 25 mins. Discard herbs.
2 Meanwhile, cook bacon in large Dutch oven over medium heat until browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon,m transfer bacon to paper towel lined plate. Reserve 2 tbsp fat in small bowl; discard remaining.
3 Lightly season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tbsp reserved bacon fat in Dutch oven over medium high heat until just smoking. Add half of the chicken in a single layer and cook until lightly browned, about 2 mins per side. Transfer to plate and repeat with remaining chicken and bacon fat.
4 Melt 3 tbsp butter in now empty Dutch oven over medium high heat. When faom subsides, add pearl onions and mushrooms; cook stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 5 to 8 mins. Reduce heat to medium, add garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomato paste and flour; cook stirring frequently until well combined, about 1 minute.
5 Add reduced wine mixture, scraping bottom of pot with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits; add 1/4 tsp pepper. Return chicken and accumulated juices, and reserved bacon to pot' increase heat to high and bring to boil Reduce heat to medium low, cover pot, and simmer until chicken is tender, about 25 mins.
6 Using slotted spoon, transfer chick to large bow;' tent with foil to keep warm. Increase heat to medium high and simmer sauce until thick and glossy, and measures 3.25 cups, about 5 mins. Off heat, stir in remaining 2 tbsp butter and reserved 1 tbsp wine. Season to taste with salt. Return chicken to pot and top with minced parslet. Serve immediately.