It’s Monday. It’s a snow day after a very long weekend with my children, and those same children have been in 4 fights so far this morning – and it’s not yet 11:00. The only thing I can think that could possibly comfort me are the leftovers of Julia Child’s Coq Au Vin that are sitting in the fridge. However, I am far too tired to describe to you just how perfectly delicious this dish is, so I leave you with the words of Julia Child herself, as she wrote the description to her Coq Au Vin recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I.
“This popular dish may be called coq au Chambertin, coq au riesling, or coq au whatever wine you use for its cooking. It is made with either white or red wine, but the red is more characteristic. In France it is usually accompanied only by parsley potatoes; buttered green peas could be included if you wish a green vegetable. Serve with it a young, full-bodied red Burgundy, Beaujolais, or Cotes du Rhone.”
For the chicken:
- 3 to 4 ounces (1/2 cup) lean bacon $1.20
- 3 pounds of frying chicken, cut into pieces $8.99
- 1/4 cup cognac $3.75
- 3 cups young, full-bodied red wine (Burgundy, Beaujolais, Chianti) $7.70
- 1 to 2 cups chicken stock $1.50
- 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste $0.40
- 2 cloves mashed garlic $0.02
- 1/4 teaspoon thyme $0.08
- 1 bay leaf $0.20
- 3 tablespoons flour $0.03
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened $0.12
- Salt $0.01
- Pepper $0.01
For the brown-braised onions:
- 18 to 24 peeled pearl onions $2.99
- 1 1/2 tablespoons butter $0.09
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil $0.04
- 1/2 cup red wine or beef stock $1.00
- 4 parsley sprigs $0.50
- 1 bay leaf $0.20
- 1 sprig thyme $0.25
- Salt $0.01
- Pepper $0.01
For the sauteed mushrooms:
- 2 tablespoons butter $0.12
- 1 tablespoon olive oil $0.03
- 1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, washed, left whole if small, quartered if large $1.50
Total cost $30.75
Cost per serving $4.39
1.) Cut the bacon into lardons (rectangles 1/4 inch across and 1 inch long). Simmer for 10 minutes in 2 quarts of water. Rinse in cold water and pat dry.
2.) Saute the bacon slowly in hot butter until it is very lightly browned. Remove to a side dish.
3.) Dry the chicken thoroughly. Brown it in the hot fat in a deep cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven.
4.) Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Return to the bacon to the pot, along with the chicken and lower heat to medium. Cover and cook slowly for 10 minutes, turning the chicken once.
5.) Uncover and pour in the cognac. Stir and allow to cook for 2 minutes to burn off the alcohol.
6.) Add the wine to the pot. Add just enough stock to cover the chicken. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic, and herbs. Bring to the simmer. Cover and simmer slowly for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and its juices run a clear yellow when the meat is pricked with a fork. Remove the chicken to a side dish.
7.) Simmer the chicken cooking liquid in the pot for a minute or two, skimming off fat. Then raise the heat and boil rapidly, reducing the liquid to about 2 1/4 cups. Correct seasoning. Remove from heat and discard bay leaf.
8.) While the chicken is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. For the onions, start by melting the butter and oil together in a skillet. When bubbling, add the onions and saute over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling the onions about so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect to brown them uniformly. Pour in the liquid, season to taste, and add the herbs. Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herbs and set onions aside.
9.) After onions have begun to cook, make the sauteed mushrooms. Place a skillet over high heat and add the butter and oil. As soon as the foam from the butter begins to subside, add the mushrooms. Toss and shake the pan for 4 to 5 minutes. During their saute the mushrooms will at first absorb the fat. In 2 to 3 minutes the fat will reappear on their surface, and the mushrooms will begin to brown. As soon as they have browned lightly, remove them from the heat.
10.) Blend the butter and flour for the chicken together into a smooth paste. Beat the paste into the hot chicken cooking liquid with a wire whisk. Bring to the simmer, stirring, and simmer for a minute or two. The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.
11.) Arrange the chicken back in the pot, place the mushrooms and onions around it, and baste with the sauce. Cover and simmer slowly for 4 to 5 minutes, until the chicken is hot throughout.
12.) Serve and enjoy!