Coq au Vin…

You know, ever since Julie & Julia came out (the movie, not the book), everyone’s been trying Julia Child recipes.  “I made her beef bourguignon!” is a common utterance.  The movie certainly made that particular dish seem appetizing.  But what about Julia’s other great recipes? I mean the woman was responsible for bringing French cooking to America.  And all we have to talk about is her beef bourguignon.  I’m going to make another French classic, Coq au Vin.

Coq au Vin literally translates to “chicken in wine”.  It’s a simple country-style dish.  Put chicken and some vegetables in a pot, cover it with wine, and come back in a few hours later.

As good as JC’s recipe was, I had to add a few things.  I added carrots, fresh grape tomatoes from the garden, 2 medium sweet onions, and some demi glace concentrate I had.  The demi glace gave it a heartier taste and really kicked it up another level.

As for the wine, I used a zinfandel for it’s fruity flavors that go well with chicken.  I also bought a nice, fresh whole wheat french loaf to wipe up the thick, umami-filled sauce.  It was the first time seeing it at Safeway, so I thought I’d give it a shot.  It was pretty good.  I love whole wheat because if I’m going to eat bread, it better have some nutrition in it, but usually whole wheat doesn’t blend well with artisan breads.

It’s a known fact in the culinary world that butter makes everything better.  Bacon also makes everything better.  In fact, bacon may be the answer to world peace.  When it comes to slow cooking, wine makes everything better.  This recipe has the trifecta of slow cooking.  Bacon, butter, and wine.  Damn, you French did something right when it comes to food.

As delicious, bold, and heart-warming as this was, I also cooked up some steak because we had it in the fridge.  Oh well.

Mmmm, prime ribeye.  I don’t care what anyone else says.  The best way to have a steak is seasoned with sea salt and pepper, seared in a little olive oil, and finished in the oven or broiler.  It ALWAYS results in a simple, tender, perfectly cooked steak.  Of course for a simple prep like this, you can’t use discount steaks honey.  You gotta go for the gold.

Plated in style, baby.  During the renovation, our counter, floor, cabinets, and pantry are all gone, so I’m allowed to use paper plates.

Coq au Vin
Adapted from Julia Child

4 oz bacon, 1/4 inch strips
3 lbs chicken thighs
2 T butter
1 T olive oil
kosher salt/fresh black pepper
3 cloves garlic, pureed
1 bay leaf
1/4 t fresh thyme
1 cup fresh grape tomatoes
3 cups young red wine (Zinfandel here)
1 cup chicken stock (not broth!)
1 T reserved demi-glace , diluted 4:1 with water (optional)
Buerre manie (1.5 T each butter and flour mashed into a paste)
fresh chopped parsley
1/3 cup brandy
2 medium sweet onions, sauteed
3 carrots, sauteed with onions
3 cups fresh mushrooms, sauteed (I didn’t have any this time)

Saute bacon in dutch oven until cooked through.  Remove and brown chicken in the bacon fat, adding a little olive oil if needed.  Add the brandy and flame.

Season chicken with salt/pepper and return to pan with bacon.  Add onions, carrots, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, tomato, and demi glace.  Pour wine and chicken stock over so it barely covers the ingredients.  Bring to a simmer, cover and simmer slowly for 20 minutes, or until chicken is tender.

Remove chicken to another dish and spoon surface fat off.  Taste sauce for flavor adjustments.  Boil down if it needs thickening or strengthening.  Off the heat, whisk in the buerre manie to thicken the sauce.  Bring to a simmer briefly.  The sauce should coat a spoon.  Add the chicken back and serve.

*next up…Smoked Turkey…*

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