While expats often miss the family they’ve left behind, one of the advantages to living abroad is choosing a brand-new family made up of friends and fellow foreigners. My Paris family makes a point of coming together on a regular basis for family dinners, often around my dinner table. It can be a bit daunting to cook for large groups, but the more the merrier—and a simple coq au vin is one of my favorite dishes for feeding a big group of cherished friends and newfound family.
Heat oil on medium heat in a large pot* and cook bacon until it renders its fat. In the meantime, wash the chicken and then dry pieces with a clean dish towel. After about 5 minutes, remove bacon, leaving the rendered fat in the pot, and set aside. Add more oil if necessary, and arrange chicken pieces in one layer on the bottom of the pot. Cook while turning the chicken occasionally for 6–8 minutes. If you are browning your chicken in two separate pots, you can combine the meat in the larger of the two after it has been browned. Add onions, garlic, bay leaf, pepper, salt, and thyme. Cover and cook on low heat for 5–8 minutes. Add flour, lightly coating the chicken. Add red wine and stock, stirring to make sure there are no clumps of flour in your sauce. Add the cooked bacon and tomato paste. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until meat is tender. The chicken should be easily pierced with a fork. If this is not the case, continue cooking until flesh can easily be removed from the bone. Add mushrooms, cover, and cook an additional 3–5 minutes, or until mushrooms are done. At this point you can taste your sauce and season as necessary. If the sauce is not thick enough, bring the pot to a quick boil until desired consistency is reached. Serve with rice or Shell Beans Dressed in Olive Oil with Fresh Thyme.
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