National Coq Au Vin Day
May 29th is Coq Au Vin Day and we celebrate with this drunken chicken dish.
Coq au vin is a French dish of chicken braised with wine, lardons, mushrooms, and optionally garlic. We love this Julia Child's recipe, which, despite what you may think, is easy as can be. You can even make it in the slow cooker with equally spectacular results.
We love it even more paired with Lost Oak Winery's award-winning Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. Both wines are made at Lost Oak Winery, Burleson TX, with grapes from Burning Daylight Vineyards - just across the highway in Rendon TX.
Enjoy, and don't forget, as you make the dish, a cup of wine for you and a cup of wine for the chicken.
Cheers & Bon Appétit!
1/2 cup lardons (or very thickly sliced bacon), cut into 1/4- by 1 1/2-inch strips (optional)
2 or more tablespoons olive oil
3 1/2 to 4 1/2 pounds chicken, cut into parts (or all one kind of part), thoroughly dried
1/4 cup Cognac or Armagnac
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
20 pearl onions, peeled
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups red wine, preferably Burgundy, Côtes du Rhône, or pinot noir
About 2 cups homemade chicken stock, or beef stock, preferably brown chicken stock (see headnote above)
1 or 2 garlic cloves, mashed or minced
About 1 tablespoon store-bought or homemade tomato paste
3/4 pound fresh mushrooms, trimmed, rinsed, and quartered
1. To make the coq au vin in your slow cooker, see the Slow Cooker Variation below.
To make the coq au vin on your stovetop, pour enough oil in a large pot to reach a depth of 1/8 inch if you’re not using lardons or bacon. If you are using lardons or bacon, toss them in a heavy-bottomed casserole or pot along with 2 tablespoons oil over medium or medium-high until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Transfer the lardons or bacon to a plate, leaving the drippings in the pot.
2. Heat the drippings or oil remaining in the pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, being careful not to crowd the pieces. (You may need to work in batches). Cook the chicken, turning frequently, until nicely browned on all sides. (If working in batches, return all the chicken to the pot.) Carefully pour the Cognac or Armagnac into the pot and wait until it becomes bubbling hot. If desired—and if you’re brave—ignite the sauce with a match. Let it flame for a minute, gently tilting the pot by its handle and swirling the sauce to burn off the alcohol. To extinguish the flames, simply cover the pan with its lid.
3. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add the bay leaf and thyme to the pan and then nestle the onions around the chicken. Cover the pot and let the chicken simmer gently, turning the pieces once, for about 10 minutes.
4. Uncover the pot, sprinkle the flour over everything, and turn the chicken and onions so the flour is absorbed by the sauce. Cover and cook, turning once or twice, for 3 to 4 minutes more.
5. Remove the pot from the heat and gradually stir and swirl in the wine and enough stock to almost cover the chicken. Add the lardons or bacon, garlic, and tomato paste to the pot, cover, and gently simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. Test the chicken for doneness (there should be no trace of pink and the juices should run clear when the meat is pierced with a knife). Grab some tongs and transfer the chicken pieces to the plate when they’re done. Continue to cook the rest of the chicken a few minutes longer. If the onions are not quite tender, continue cooking them in the sauce, then return the chicken to the pot, add the mushrooms, and simmer 4 to 5 minutes. The sauce should be just thick enough to lightly coat the chicken and vegetables. (If the sauce seems too thin, bring it to a boil and cook until the sauce is reduced to the desired consistency. If the sauce is too thick, thin it with spoonfuls of stock.) Taste the sauce and correct the seasoning accordingly. Serve the coq au vin immediately or let it cool, cover, and refrigerate overnight. To reheat, skim any fat that has congealed on the surface of the stew and place the pot of coq au vin over medium-low heat.
SLOW COOKER VARIATION
Yes, you can make Julia Child’s coq au vin recipe in a slow cooker. Just understand that the complexity of this French classic relies in large part on the caramelization that comes from searing or sautéing various ingredients in a hot skillet prior to jumbling them all together to simmer. Making coq au vin in a slow cooker still turns out a lovely and worthwhile stew, albeit one with just slightly less depth of flavor. There are almost as many ways to adapt this recipe for the slow cooker as there are cooks and slow cookers. We opted for the following approach, which worked swell. If using the lardons (or bacon), follow step 1 of the instructions above. Place the lardons (or bacon) and their drippings in the slow cooker and add the remaining ingredients except for the oil and the flour, using only 1 cup stock (not 2 cups as instructed above). Cook on medium heat for 5 1/2 to 6 hours, until the chicken is tender. Transfer the chicken to a platter or a serving dish. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stir in the flour, and cook until it forms a paste and just begins to turn brown at the edges. Stirring constantly, very slowly strain the liquid from the slow cooker into the saucepan and simmer until it has reduced to a consistency that’s thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Transfer the onions to the platter or dish with the chickens and discard the bay leaf. Pour the reduced sauce over the chicken and onions.
[Editor’s Note: Bear in mind, no two slow cookers are exactly alike, just as no two cooks are exactly alike. This slow-cooker approach worked really, really well for us, although if you have a different slow cooker with certain quirks with which you’re intimately familiar, you may want to tweak the cooking technique accordingly. And, natch, we’d love if you’d share it with us in a comment below.] Curious to hear more about working magic with your slow cooker? Peruse our entire selection of slow cooker recipes.