This coq au vin recipe, featured in a recent issue of Cook’s Illustrated (September, 2006), is very good. I was wary of the boneless, skinless thighs it called for (sacré bleu!), but they surprisingly worked in this dish. I added a shot of cognac after sauteeing the vegetables, and — as I’m wont to do out of laziness — substituted frozen pearl onions instead of blanching, scoring, and peeling 24 fresh onions. I also pretty much doubled the mushrooms (and garlic) the recipe called for. I served the results with egg noodles and was quite happy with the results.
Modern Coq au Vin
- 1 bottle red wine (or more if you are drinking while cooking)
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 10 sprigs fresh parsley (what the hell is a sprig? I just used half a bunch)
- 1/2 bunch parsley, stems removed, chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 slices thick-bacon, cut into “lardons” (fancy way (and a misnomer) to say “slice the bacon into strips”)
- 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut lengthwise. My thighs were smallish, so I didn’t cut all of them, and I didn’t really bother trimming the fat. Fat makes the world a better place.
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter. My butter had salt in it. Don’t hate me.
- 24 frozen pearl onions, thawed, drained, and dried. I used 27.
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, stems removed, halved (or quartered). I also used white button mushrooms, and kept the stems. For button/cremini mushrooms, I like the stems. I think they taste good. There, I said it.
- 2 medium garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press. 2? Try more like 7.
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 shot (1 1/2 ounces) of cognac
In a non-reactive saucepan, combine wine, broth, 1/2 bunch parsley, stems and all, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce, and simmer until reduced in half, prolly around 1/2 hour or so. If you’re drinking, pour a glass of wine for yourself, and put on some music.
My mise en place, including an iPod shuffle connected to my Tivoli iPal speaker. Set List: “Guided by Voices’ Under the Bushes Under the Stars”, The Selecter’s “Too Much Pressure”, The Thermals “The Body, the Blood, the Machine”, Golden Smog’s “Another Fine Day”, Okkervil River’s “Black Sheep Boy”, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks’ “Face The Truth”, and enough assorted singles from Paul Westerberg to properly fill out 512 megabytes.
Salt and pepper the chicken thighs. In a hot Dutch oven or huge ass sautee pan (i.e. deep and wide), swirl a tablespoon of butter and brown the thighs in two batches. Remove from pan and place on plate. Add bacon to the pan and render, then add two tablespoons of butter and sautee mushrooms for a few minutes, and then add the pearl onions.
After a minute or so, turn up the heat, then hit the vegetables with a shot of cognac. If you’re the dramatic type, you can light it on fire for a flambé, but if you’re like me and have an annoyingly sensitive indoor fire alarm, you can simply pour yourself another glass of wine and lament on what could have been. Add garlic, sautee for a few more seconds, salt and pepper the vegetables, and hit them with some of the chopped parsley.
In the meantime, you’ve already (in the past) reduced the wine/broth mixture, and strained it, right? I sure hope so. Return the chicken thighs the pan, and pour the liquid reduction over it, add tomato paste and flour, and stir. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat.
Go watch The Office and after a half hour or so check the seasoning and adjust the salt level. Continue to simmer and reduce on low heat until your coq soaks up more of the vin, and reduces to a stew, about another half hour or so. Once finished, swirl in last two tablespoons butter and remove from heat.
Serve with egg noodles, garnish with chopped parsley. There you have it, the ultimate French comfort food. The chicken thighs take on a wonderfuly complex, meaty flavor and the texture is just perfect, almost belying that it is ordinary poultry. Sit down in front of a fire with a glass of wine and enjoy your “modern” coq au vin, and if you want to complete the “modern” theme put on some “modern” French pop like Air or Phoenix and then ride the Max and pretend you’re on the Metro and then go on strike.