Weekday Coq au Vin

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    4

Appears in

Ruhlman's Twenty

By Michael Ruhlman

Published 2011

  • About

Coq au vin (koke o VAHN), chicken cooked in wine, sounds like a fancy French dish but is rustic fare. Originally made with a tough old rooster, it is a dish perfectly adapted to the contemporary kitchen. This great one-pot meal uses common ingredients, and no stock is required—just water and wine.

The method for cooking this French classic varies, but I’ve tried to make it as efficient as possible, requiring little time at the stove. There’s no reason this version can’t be a staple weekday meal. The coq au vin can be prepared in an hour, but for much of that time, the chicken is in the oven. It’s also a dish that can be prepared up to three days ahead, refrigerated, and finished in about five minutes. Coq au vin is nourishing and delicious on its own. It can be followed by a simple salad, and I also like to serve it with wide egg noodles or pappardelle, or roasted potatoes.

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken legs
  • 4 ounces/155 grams bacon strips, cut into ½-inch/12-millimeter pieces, or 4 ounces/155 grams slab bacon, cut into lardons
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed with the flat side of a knife
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose/plain flour
  • 1 carrot
  • 8 shallots, peeled, or 8 Roasted Shallots
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ pound/225 grams white mushrooms, quartered
  • cups/360 milliliters red wine
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • optional garnish: chopped fresh parsley, julienned lemon Confit, grated lemon zest, gremolata

Method

Preheat the oven to 425°F/220°C/gas 7.

Place the chicken legs on a large baking sheet/tray and roast for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 325°F/165°C/gas 3.

While the chicken is roasting, put the bacon, onion, and garlic in a large ovenproof frying pan, Dutch oven, or other heavy ovenproof pot (my choice is a large cast-iron pan if you have one). The cooking vessel should be large enough to hold the chicken legs snugly in one layer. Add two three-finger pinches of salt and enough water just to cover the ingredients. Cook over high heat until the water has cooked off, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring, until the onion has begun to caramelize, about 5 minutes more. Sprinkle the flour over the onion and bacon and stir to distribute it.

Nestle the chicken skin-side down into the onion mixture in one layer. Tuck the carrot into the pan, followed by the shallots (if using roasted shallots, reserve them until the end) and bay leaves, and then the mushrooms. (The mushrooms can rest on top if there’s not enough room in the pan; they’ll cook down.) Add the wine and honey and season with pepper. Add enough water to reach three-fourths of the way up the chicken. Bring to a full simmer over high heat. Slide the pan, uncovered, into the oven.

Cook the chicken for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, turn the chicken pieces skin-side up, and stir the ingredients to make sure that they cook evenly. Taste the sauce; add salt if it needs more. Continue to cook until the chicken is tender, about 20 minutes longer. Remove the pan from the oven. Just the skin side of the chicken should be above the liquid. (If using roasted shallots, add them to the pan.) If serving the chicken immediately, turn on the broiler/grill. Broil/grill the chicken until the skin is crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove and discard the carrot and bay leaves. Serve the chicken and sauce in pasta bowls and garnish as desired.

If the chicken is not being served immediately, it can be kept on the stove top for hours, or it can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. You may want to take the opportunity to degrease the sauce. Spoon off the fat that rises to the surface, or refrigerate the chicken and remove the congealed fat before reheating the sauce. To serve it, reheat it in a 325°F/165°C/gas 3 oven for 30 minutes and broil/grill to crisp the skin.

  1. Buy slab bacon, or cure your own, so you can determine how to cut it.

  2. Cut lardons into ½-inch/12-millimeter pieces.

  3. Large lardons add heft to most meat braises and stews.

  4. Moist heat renders fat and tenderizes the bacon.

  5. Water helps break down the onions so they caramelize more quickly.

  6. The deeper brown the onions are, the more complex the flavor of the stew.

  7. Add flour to the onion mixture and cook off the raw taste.

  8. Nestle the partially roasted chicken legs into the pan in one layer.

  9. Add wine, water, and aromatics.

  10. Bring the water and wine to a simmer, before finishing in the oven.