Coq au Vin

If you want to make Coq au Vin there are a few things to bear in mind. First, you need to start the day before. Second, give yourself plenty of time on the second day for the preparation, and the different cooking stages.  Trust me when I say this takes longer than you might think.  If you have to rush it, you’ll just end up in a tiz. And finally, you need a decent sized heavy based flameproof casserole dish. If you don’t have one, invest in one. You’ll be glad you did.

This recipe is for 8 people.

3 kg chicken pieces  (on bone, with skin) or buy 2 chickens and get the butcher to joint them

1 bottle red wine

2 bay leaves

2 thyme sprigs

250g bacon, diced

60g butter

20 brown french shallots (the little brown skinned miniature onions)

250g button mushrooms

1 teaspoon oil

30g plain flour

1 litre chicken stock

125 ml brandy

2 teaspoons tomato puree (from a jar is fine)

1.5 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon plain flour

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Put the wine, bay leaves, thyme, and some salt and pepper in a bowl and add the chicken. Cover and leave to marinate, preferably overnight.

Peel the french spring shallots by putting them in a bowl and cover with boiling water for a few minutes, it will make the skins come off easier.  Set aside.  Blanch the bacon in boiling water, then drain, pat dry and saute in a frying pan until golden. Lift out onto a plate. Melt a quarter of the butter in the pan, add the onions and saute until browned. Life out and set aside.

Melt another quarter of the butter, add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and saute for 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Drain the chicken, reserving the marinade, and pat the chicken dry.  Season with salt  and pepper. Add the remaining butter and the oil to the frying pan, add the chicken, and saute until golden. Stir in the flour.

Transfer the chicken to a large  casserole dish and add the stock.  Pour the brandy into the frying pan and boil, stirring for 30 seconds to deglaze the pan. Pour over the chicken.  Add the marinade, onions, mushrooms, bacon and tomato puree. Cook over a moderate heat for 45 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

If the sauce needs thickening, lift out the chicken and vegetables and bring the sauce to the boil. Mix together the butter and flour to make a “buerre manie” and whisk into the sauce. Boil, stirring for 2 minutes until thickened. Add the parsley and return the chicken and vegetables to the sauce.

I like to serve this with potato and celeriac mash, and chopped parsley sprinkled over the top.

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