Sunday, June 1, 2008

Coq au Vin... according to me.

This couldn't be easier to make... or more impressive sounding. It's a beautiful chicken (traditionally, rooster) stew and requires very little fuss beyond choosing some high quality ingredients. The prep time on this was less than 20 minutes. (And it is probably fair to say that I wasn't working too quickly.) After that, like any stew, you can decide how long you would like to cook everything together. Obviously, as all of the ingredients have a chance to hang out and ask the other for a date, the flavours will mingle and intensify. You can easily make this recipe in advance and heat it gently before you are ready to serve. It's all up to you!
Lovely. Pretentious. Comfort food. :)

1 Good Roasting Chicken
4 Bulk Carrots (or more to your taste)
1 Bag of Golden Cippolini Onions
10 – 12 Crimini Mushrooms
Fresh Thyme
Salt and Pepper
5 Medium to Thick Slices of Pancetta
1 Bottle of Good Red Wine
2 Cans of Low Sodium Chicken Stock

A Few Other Options...
You could make this a heartier stew but adding in some parsnips or turnips. Maybe some firm potatoes. Don't be afraid to tweak!

Ask your butcher to chop a whole chicken for you. Or buy pre-chopped chicken pieces. Don’t be afraid to ask your butcher to chop the chicken though. You can often buy a better quality chicken whole than the pieces that are available.

For Sweetness...
CIPPOLINIs: Pronounced chip-oh-LEE-nee this is a smaller, flat, pale onion. The flesh is a slight yellowish color and the skins are thin and papery. The color of the skin ranges from pale yellow to the light brown color of Spanish onions. These are sweeter onions, having more residual sugar than garden-variety white or yellow onions, but not as much as shallots.
The advantage to cipollinis is that they are small and flat and the shape lends them well to roasting. This combined with their sweetness makes for a lovely addition to recipes where you might want to use whole caramelized onions. (source:

Now, to the food...
Currently, I am coveting a Le Creuset pot, which would be the ideal pot to cook Coq au Vin. However, since I have not quite jumped that culinary hurdle, I made use of my largest stock pot for the cooking of this stew.

MISE EN PLACE! Slice your pancetta (strips, chunks, long, short... whatever!). Chop up your carrots. I opted for big chunky pieces of carrots... very rustic! Slice the mushrooms (big slices though). Peel the onions and trim the ends, keeping the onion whole. Salt and pepper all sides of the chicken pieces.

Heating your pot to medium heat, brown the pancetta in a very slight amount of good olive oil. Just enough to start those brown bits accummulating on the base of the pot. We all know how much flavour is trapping and intensifying there! Remove the pancetta and set aside.

Without cleaning the pot, add the chicken pieces, browning on each side. Start skin side down, then flip. With my pot, I had to do this in about 2 or 3 batches. You don't want to overcrowd your pot and reduce the heat level. Just take a few extra minutes and get a nice golden crisp to each piece. Remove the chicken and set aside. Having prepped your carrots, onions and mushrooms, add these to the pot. Cook until softened, roughly 5 minutes. Add the wine, to deglaze the pot. Scrape those lovely brown bits off of the bottom of your pot.

Add the chicken stock. Then start adding everything else back in... Add half of the pancetta, then the chicken pieces. Toss in the rest of the pancetta (if you managed to NOT eat it while it sat there). Set a few sprigs of thyme on top of the stew. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until the chicken is tender. If your preference is for a very tender piece of chicken with the meat still intact, then cease cooking at that point. Roughly 1 to 1.5 hours. If not, continue cooking until the meat is nearly falling off of the bone. I think my stew simmered for the 1.5 hours, then I left it on the hob for another 3 hours on a barely there bit of heat.

Garnish with some freshly chopped thyme. Enjoy with rice, roasted potatoes or a beautiful bread.

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