Just look at the list of ingredients:
Bacon. Butter. Mushrooms. Wine. Brandy. Chicken.
Coq au vin basically sells itself. Sure, I could rhapsodize about the melt-in-your-mouth chicken and seared mushrooms bathed in rich, tangy wine sauce. But I trust you to recognize a good thing. No hard sell needed.
Coq au vin is a classic for a reason. Ever since Julia Child ignited the craze for French food in the 1960s, Americans have greedily slurped up this heady stew and asked for seconds. Yes, it is a bit labor-intensive, but the end result is completely worth it. The next time you need an impressive dish for a dinner party or special occasion, think retro. No, think classic. Think coq au vin.
(Adapted from Nigel Slater)
-1 large chicken, cut into 6 or 8 pieces, or 1 small chicken plus two leg quarters (save back and innards if you intend to make your own broth)
-8 strips of thick-cut bacon, sliced into thick matchsticks, or 150 g. pre-cut lardons
-2 med. yellow onions, roughly chopped
-2 med. carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
-2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-3 Tbsp. flour, divided
-4 Tbsp. brandy or Cognac, divided
-leaves from 4-5 sprigs thyme
-3 bay leaves
-3/4 bottle red wine (approx. 2 1/4 c.)
-1 1/2 c. chicken broth, preferably homemade
-1-2 Tbsp. butter, if needed
-1 c. small “boiler” or “pearl” onions or small shallots, peeled
-1/2 lb. mushrooms (I used crimini), cleaned and halved if large
-salt and pepper, to taste
-chopped parsley, for garnish
1. Rinse the chicken and trim of excess skin and fat. Dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Now is a good time to make your chicken broth or bring some prepared broth to a bare simmer in a saucepan.
2. In a large, heavy pot, fry the bacon pieces on medium heat until lightly golden. Remove to a bowl with a slotted spoon, leaving the drippings behind.
3. Put the chicken in the pot, skin-side down, and let cook undisturbed until golden. Flip and brown the other side. Remove to a plate, leaving the drippings behind.
4. Lower the heat and add the carrots, celery, and onions, cooking until the onions soften. Stir in the garlic. Then sprinkle the veggies with 2 tablespoons flour and stir, cooking 90 seconds more.
5. Return the chicken pieces and their juices to the pot. Add the bacon, then pour over 2 tablespoons of brandy.
6. Add the wine, bay leaves, thyme, and enough broth to barely cover the chicken.
7. Bring just to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook partially covered for about 40 minutes, or until the chicken is tender. Remove the chicken to a bowl.
8. Raise the heat to high and begin reducing the sauce. Use a spoon to (carefully) skim off the grease that accumulates around the edges of the sauce, discarding all but 2-3 tablespoons. Put the reserved grease in a metal skillet or medium pot (do not use non-stick) and set aside.
9. If desired, thicken the reduced sauce with a slurry of 1 tablespoon of flour whisked with 2 tablespoons of water. Return the chicken pieces to the sauce, first removing the skin (if you like). Correct the seasoning and keep warm.
10. Heat skimmed fat in the pot/skillet on high. If there is not enough fat to cover the bottom, add the butter. Add the mushrooms and let brown undisturbed for 2 or 3 minutes. Now add the small onions and sauté 2 min. more. Season with salt and pepper.
11. Have matches or a lighter handy. Pour 2-3 tablespoons of brandy into a cup. Very carefully, pour the brandy over the mushrooms and onions. Immediately set the mushrooms and onions on fire, averting your head for safety. Shake the pan until the alcohol burns off and the flames die out. Continue cooking until the onions are just tender, adding a little water if needed.