Coq au Vin Rouge (Chicken in Red Wine Sauce)

Each week, for the past 6 months or so, I've been focusing on concocting easy meals that can be made in "a less than equipped college kitchen" as the sub-header of this blog goes. After making the ever so complex Dolmeh Felfel (Stuffed Capsicums) last week, I wondered if I can try to attack more recipes that are supposedly difficult, but can be made in a kitchen with just a pot and a frying pan or so.

While searching for recipes, I came across the French classic, Coq au Vin (Rooster with Wine). It's something I've loved nomming on for a whole age, but after looking at the recipes, I knew that this could be something I could challenge myself with.

The recipe, especially the one I used from Epicurious (based on Julia Child's version), is undeniably one of the hardest things I've worked with, but as the pictures show, I managed to pull it together just fine without the use of a hoard of utensils as recommended by Epicurious. I took away a bunch of the butter and substituted it with grape seed oil so as to make it slightly healthier, as well; this didn't have a significant impact on the taste either, at least as far as I can remember the taste of a homemade version of the dish. Also, I found that Epicurious' recipe asked for a very high heat that kept burning my chicken and vegetables. I would recommend lowering the flame, especially when the chicken is stewing as this will help to make it more tender as well.

For the sake of the faint-hearted and easily discouraged folk like me, I should note here too that you shouldn't worry if the marinade smells horrendous! When I took the chicken out of the fridge after it had been there for a day, I swear that the smell made me think of two-day old garbage cans. I had used fresh vegetables, so this really confused me, but I decided to carry on. I'm glad I did, because about half way through cooking, all the actual flavours came out and all became well again! The final result, in fact, was a spoon-tender chicken with a sweet, yet slightly sour, grape-y sauce that we couldn't get enough of; every last dredge of the sauce, as a matter of fact, was scraped up with bread, so all in all, it was a massive success! Despite the long time it takes to make, and the stress it induces for a novice cook such as myself, it's definitely worth the effort!

Here's my version of the recipe--

Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 1/2 bottle red wine (I used Chateau L'Intendant's Bordeaux 2010)
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced
  • 1 medium carrot, sliced
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 3 chicken drumsticks
  • 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 bacon strips
  • 1.5 tbs all-purpose flour
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 thyme-savoury sprigs
  • 2 parsley sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tbs cooking oil
  • 150g oyster mushrooms
  • 4 pearl onions, or boiling onions, peeled
  • 1/2 brown onion, chopped in large chunks
  1. Boil all marinade ingredients, except chicken, over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and cool completely before placing marinade into the fridge for one to two hours. This will make sure that the chicken doesn't cook in warm marinade.
  3. Place chicken pieces in the marinade; stir to coat pieces completely. 
  4. Cover with cling-wrap and refrigerate for one day, turning chicken occasionally.
  5. On the next day, pat dry chicken with some paper towels to drain off excess marinade. 
  6. Strain marinade; reserve the liquid and vegetables separately.
  7. In a stew pot that can hold all the chicken drumsticks in a single layer, heat 1/2 tbs of oil over medium-high heat. 
  8. Add bacon and sauté until crisp and brown. Remove and reserve bacon for later use.
  9. Reduce heat to low. Add chicken to the bacon fat, skin-side down, and sauté until brown for approximately 5-8 minutes per side. Remove and reserve chicken for later use.
  10. Add vegetables reserved from the marinade to the pot. Sauté until brown. This can be difficult to see because of the colour of the wine; cook until you can smell the onions and then some, making sure that the vegetables don't burn. This should take around 10 minutes.
  11. Mix in flour and stir for a couple of minutes. 
  12. Gradually, whisk in the reserved marinade liquid making sure no lumps form. Bring the sauce to a boil, continuing to whisk every so often. Cook for around 2 minutes or until sauce thickens.
  13. Add shallots, garlic, herbs, and broth. Stir through.
  14. Return chicken to the pot, arranging it skin side up in a single layer.
  15. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Cover and cook for around 30 minutes, occasionally basting the chicken with the sauce. Move the chicken occassionally to make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom, as well. If the sauce reduces too much, add a bit of boiling water to compensate. 
  16. Turn chicken over. Cover again and cook for 15 more minutes or until the chicken becomes spoon-tender.
  17. While the chicken is stewing, heat 1tbs cooking oil in a frying pan over medium-heat. 
  18. Add mushrooms and sauté them until tender. Transfer them from the pan and reserve for later use.
  19. In the same pan, heat another tablespoon of oil and add the pickling and chopped brown onions. Sauté until they begin to brown. Remove them from the pan and reserve for later use as well. 
  20. After chicken is cooked through and tender, take it out yet again. Strain the sauce from the pot to the pan, pressing on the vegetables to extract all the sauce. Discard the solids.
  21. Bring sauce to a simmer, scraping and deglazing the pan. 
  22. Return sauce to the pot and add the lightly browned onions. Bring to a simmer over low heat. Cover and cook until onions are almost tender, around 8 minutes.  Add boiling water if the sauce has reduced too much. 
  23. Add mushrooms and bacon to the pot. Cover and simmer until onions become very tender, after around 8 minutes. 
  24. Season sauce with salt and pepper according to taste.
  25. Return chicken to sauce and warm for a few minutes.
  26. Serve by spooning sauce and vegetables over chicken. Garnish with parsley. Goes great with untoasted French bread, wild mushroom couscous or parsleyed baby potatoes.

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