Coq au vin

File this under “would have been posted years ago if only it photographed prettier.” This is one of our family’s favourite meals ever. It’s usually served with creamy mashed potato while the sauce is mopped up with a crusty baguette. {It was served with soft polenta in the photo above}. It’s not hard but like all good things who come to those who are patient, there is a bit of cooking time needed to get the best results.

I only use chicken thighs on the bone because you really need a cut that can hold up to long slow cooking without becoming dry and stringy, so I’m afraid you can forget thigh fillets or any cut of breast. Either pancetta or speck are fine, add some mushrooms and onions and a bottle of red wine and you’ve got some kitchen magic.

what you need

  • six chicken thigh cutlets {on the bone}, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper
  • some plain flour, for lightly coating the chicken
  • about 150 g of pancetta or speck, skin and/or extra fat removed and cut into strips or large dice
  • approximately 8 small French style shallot onions {peeled and left whole} or 2 to 3 brown onions {peeled and cut into quarters}
  • 250 g button mushrooms {left whole} or 200 g large mushrooms {halved or roughly chopped}
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed
  • one bottle of dry red wine, e.g. Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 250 ml chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • optional: 2 tbsp plain flour and some cold water

what to do

  • Begin by browning the lightly floured chicken pieces in some olive oil, in a large cast iron dutch oven or similar. Remove chicken pieces to a plate and brown the pancetta or speck in the same pan over a high heat until golden and crispy. Remove when done then lower the heat to medium and fry the onions and mushrooms for about ten minutes or until the mushrooms have softened and onions become translucent and browned. When they’re ready add the garlic and thyme and fry gently for a few seconds, then return the chicken and pancetta to the pan.
  • Turn the heat to high and deglaze the pan with a little bit of the red wine. It should sizzle as you scrape at the crusted bits with a wooden spoon. When the alcohol starts to cook off {it won’t smell as “winey”} add some more wine. Continue deglazing on a high heat and adding wine until the alcohol has cooked off and the wine just barely covers the chicken. You may not need all of the wine, usually about 500 ml is enough. Add only enough chicken stock to cover the chicken and vegies, some salt and pepper, and the paprika. Pop the lid on and reduce the heat to a low simmer and leave to cook until the chicken is soft and falling off the bone, at least an hour.
  • Just before it’s ready to serve you might need to thicken the sauce if it looks too runny. If so mix a little flour {about 2 tbsp} with some cold water until you have a smooth paste, and stir through for the final few minutes of cooking.
  • Serve with either mashed potato or soft polenta, some green beans, a garden salad, and don’t forget the crusty bread!


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