Julia Child’s Coq Au Vin

There is just something so intimidating about the dish Coq au Vin, and Julia Child, and french cooking in general actually–that has led me to procrastinate making this dish for a really long time! Then I thought, what a better time to make it than a cold sunday evening in December? So with no time like the present, I decided once again to get out of my cooking comfort zone and attempt to make what I thought would be one of my most challenging dishes yet.

Then as I read through the recipe I realized it wasn’t anywhere near as complicated as I thought it would be! Since I have been blogging I have learned that the things I was scared to make because I thought they would be too complicated {and i’d mess them up} actually turn out to be super simple, and the recipes I thought would be simple and uncomplicated often times go wrong… so it’s always funny for me to look back and wonder WHY I was even in a comfort zone in the first place. I hope i’m making sense!

Anyway, I was afraid to make a Julia child recipe, but now I understand what all the hype is about, and I won’t be afraid to try more recipes of hers in the near future! Her Coq au Vin was not only way simpler than I imagined it to be, but was pretty darn delicious too–especially served alongside some buttery potatoes and french bread! I hope you enjoy this simplified step by step of one of her most popular recipes! It really is the perfect thing to serve on a cold wintery evening!

4 oz smoky lardons or slab bacon, about 1/2-inch (1 cm) thick, cut into ½-inch (1 cm) slices
2 ½ to 3 lbs (about 1.5 kg) chicken pieces, or enough for 4 people
2 Tbs olive or good cooking oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ – 1/3 cup (65 to 85 ml) brandy, optional but recommended
2 carrots, cleaned, trimmed and sliced into ½-inch- (1 cm) thick coins
2 cloves garlic, puréed or finely minced
1 bay leaf
¼ tsp thyme, fresh or fresh dried
1/3 cup (65 ml) canned Italian plum or cherry tomatoes
2 ½ – 3 cups young fruity red wine (such as zinfandel)
1 – 2 cups (250 – 500 ml) chicken stock
Chopped fresh flatleaf parsley

10 oz – 1 lb (300 – 500 g) fresh white mushrooms or Champignons
Butter or olive oil for sautéing, more or less as desired
2 Tbs butter
1 Tbs chopped chives or the greens from the pearl onions

16 – 20 small pearl onions – about 1 cup or so – no more than 1-inch (2 cm) width, or more as desired
Butter or olive oil
½ cup red wine
Small amount chicken stock or water and a pinch of cube to braise
1 – 2 bay leaves
Pinch fresh dried thyme

Clean and trim the chicken pieces, removing excess skin and fat pockets; rinse and pat dry.

In a large heavy pot or Dutch oven, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and then add the lardons; fry, tossing often, until crispy. Remove the lardons with a slotted spoon to a plate, leaving the fat/bacon grease in the pot. Add an additional tablespoon of olive oil to the fat in the pot if necessary and add the chicken pieces in one layer; do not crowd. Brown the chicken on all sides. If need be, brown the chicken in batches. Once all of the chicken is well browned, return all of the pieces to the pot and add the brandy; allow the brandy to boil until almost evaporated, only about a minute or two.

Return the cooked lardons to the pot with the chicken; add the carrots, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, the tomatoes, 2 1/2 cups of wine and season lightly with salt and pepper. Add enough of the chicken stock to just barely cover the ingredients.

Bring just to the boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover partially and allow to simmer until the chicken is cooked through and very tender, about 45 minutes to an hour.

Meanwhile, prepare the braised onions and sautéed mushrooms:

Clean and trim the white pearl onions. Sauté in 1 tablespoon of browned butter, 1 tablespoon olive oil and a pinch of sugar until golden. Add ½ cup red wine (the same wine used for the Coq au Vin) and cook for several minutes until the wine evaporates and leaves a glaze in the bottom of the pan. Add enough chicken stock to braise the onions – not more than half a cup, just enough to come up about ¼ inch, with the bay and thyme; allow onions to simmer until tender. Season to taste, if needed. Remove from heat and set aside.

Clean, trim and quarter the mushrooms and sauté in a tablespoon or 2 of butter. Until tender and browned. Season with salt and pepper and toss in the chopped chives. Remove from heat and set aside.If the sauce is too watery once the chicken is tender and cooked, simply lift the chicken and vegetables out of the pot and continue to simmer until the sauce reduces to desired consistency. Skim off the fat from the surface of the sauce, taste and correct seasoning. Return the chicken and vegetables to the sauce in the pot, add the braised onions and sautéed mushrooms and reheat gently, simmering for a few minutes so the flavors meld.

Bon Appétit mon amis!
<3 Sarah