Coq au Vin always conjures up deep seated emotions and lively, if not loud, conversations on who has the best recipe. It is one of the most ubiquitous French comfort (bistro) foods, probably best defined by the classic Julia Child recipe – which we have done on many occasions.
This dish can be found in almost every region in France, with variations based on the availability of ingredients – but most importantly the wine from the region. Bar none, the wine is the most important part of the dish. We’ve used Burgundy, Côtes du Rhône, and tried Bordeaux blends for the classic red version. The traditionalists will insist that true coq au vin must be made with red Burgundy wine. You don’t need to spend a fortune on the wine, but the rule of thumb is always this: only cook with wine that you’d drink. And we won’t tell anybody if you use a California pinot noir.
While researching recipes, we found a number of interesting variations: in Provence, they include tomatoes, red peppers, black olives and extra garlic, ; in Normandy, they replace the wine with cider. We across an interesting recipe in the Wall Street Journal (click HERE for the original article) which uses a very interesting sherry-like wine Vin Jaune from the Jura region – and we really wanted to up our game by creating our own version. Vin Jaune might be hard to find, but don’t worry – you can certainly substitute a semi-dry Riesling (especially one from Alsace) in a pinch. This is a fun recipe, and a real show-stopper for a dinner party.
- 1 bottle Vin Jaune (or Alsace Riesling)
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (homemade is the best)
- 10 sprigs fresh parsley
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 slices bacon
- 1 chicken (4 to 6 pounds), cut up into 8 pieces (you can also use bone in chicken thighs)
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 large sweet yellow onion, minced
- 1 pound mushrooms, sliced (you can use a mix of white button mushrooms, cremini, or oyster mushrooms – or just stick to one type)
- 8 tablespoons clarified unsalted butter
- 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2/3 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
- 2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
- Chopped fresh parsley and/or chives for garnish
- Cooked buttered noodles, or rice, for serving
- Bring all but 1 cup of wine (reserve for use later), broth, parsley sprigs, thyme, and bay leaf to simmer in a saucepan over medium heat for about 25 minutes. DIscard the herbs.
- Place flour in a ZIploc bag. Add the chicken, seal the bag, and shake to coat. Remove chicken from bag, shaking off the excess flour. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cook bacon in large Dutch oven over medium heat until browned. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel lined plate. Reserve 2 tablespoons of fat for cooking the chicken.
- Add about half of the butter, then add the chicken in a single layer to the Dutch oven, and brown – about 5 to 10 minutes per side. Do this in batches.
- Once you have removed the last of the chicken, add in the remaining butter and olive oil. Add the onions, and cook for 5 minutes; add the mushrooms, and cook for 10 minutes.
- Add the garlic, and saute for 1 minutes or until you start smelling the garlic. Immediately add the wine/broth mixture, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to loosen the brown bits. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Put the chicken back into the pot, and cover. Simmer until the chicken is tender, about 25 minutes.
- Add the remaining wine and Sherry vinegar, then whisk in the creme fraiche (or sour cream). Season again with salt and pepper to taste – you can also add some more Sherry vinegar or some lemon juice for some brightness.
- Plate over the noodles or rice, then garnish with the herbs.