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Coq Au Vin

Coq Au Vin

This recipe is about as “classic” as it gets – and once you taste it, you’ll know why! This particular version is essentially Julia Child’s early effort to adapt this French standard to American cooking skills and availability of ingredients. By the time Julia wrote her first cookbook, few of us had backyard chicken coops… Regardless, this is a recipe every passionate cook should try to master. It is well worth the effort.

Coq Au Vin
Photo Courtesy of:


  • 1/2 cup of lardons (or very thick-cut bacon), cut into 1/4- by 1 1/2-inch strips (optional)
  • 2 or more tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 pounds of chicken, cut into parts (or all of one kind of part), thoroughly dried
  • 1/4 cup of Cognac or Armagnac (Brandy)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon of dried thyme
  • 2 small white onions, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons of flour
  • 2 cups of red wine, preferably Burgundy, Côtes du Rhône, or Pinot Noir
  • About 2 cups brown homemade chicken stock, or beef stock
  • 1 or 2 garlic cloves, mashed or minced
  • About 1 tablespoon store-bought or homemade tomato paste
  • 3/4 pound fresh mushrooms, trimmed, washed, and quartered


  1.  Sauté Lardon (bacon) in 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy-bottomed casserole until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Transfer the pork to a side dish, leaving the drippings in the pan.
  2.  Heat the drippings or oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, before careful not to crowd the pan. (You may need to work in batches). Cook the chicken, turning frequently, until nicely browned on all sides. Carefully pour the Cognac or Armagnac into the pan, let it become bubbling hot, and then, if desired-and if you’re brave-ignite the sauce with a match. Let it flame for a minute, tilting the pan by its handle and swirling the sauce to burn off alcohol. To extinguish the flames, simply cover the pan with its lid.
  3. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Add the bay leaf and thyme to the pan and place the onions around the chicken. Cover and simmer gently, turning the chicken once, for about 10 minutes.
  4. Uncover the pan, sprinkle the flour over everything, and turn the chicken and onions so the flour is absorbed by the sauce. Cover and cook, turning once or twice, for 3 to 4 minutes more.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually stir and swirl in the wine and enough stock or bouillon to almost cover the chicken. Add the lardons or bacon, garlic, tomato paste, and mushrooms to the pan, cover, and gently simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. Test the chicken for doneness (there should be no trace of pink and the juices should run clear when the meat is pierced with a knife) and remove those pieces that are ready. Continue to cook the rest of the chicken a few minutes longer. If the onions are not quite tender, continue cooking them in the sauce, then return the chicken to the pan, add the mushrooms, and simmer 4 to 5 minutes. The sauce should be just thick enough to lightly coat the chicken and vegetables. If it is too thin, boil it down rapidly to concentrate; if it is too thick, thin it with spoonfuls of stock or bouillon. Taste the sauce carefully, and correct the seasoning accordingly. Serve immediately or let cool, cover, and refrigerate overnight. To reheat, skim any fat that has congealed on the surface of the stew and place the pan of coq au vin over medium-low heat.


  1. Before adding pearl onions to the stew, saute’ them briefly in the bacon grease.
  2. Traditionally, all parts of the bird would have been tossed in for good measure and additional flavor ,head, feet… including a dash or two of blood. That of course is only possibly if you have the chickens live in your back yard to start.
  3. The best way to add more flavor to this and any dish, is by using homemade “brown” chicken stock.-and it is much easier to make than one might think. The term “brown” refers to searing or “browning” the meat pieces first. Come on, give it a try!

Brown Chicken Stock Ingredients:

Servings: 4 cups

  • 5 pounds uncooked, meaty chicken bones or chicken wings and thighs
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 10 flat-leaf parsley sprigs
  • 6 thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf


Arrange a rack in top third of oven and another rack in bottom third; preheat to 450°. Spread bones on a large roasting pan. Place in oven on lower rack and roast until deeply brown, 45 minutes-1 hour. Transfer bones to a large pot. Spoon off fat from juices in pan. Place pan on stove over medium-high heat. When browned bits begin to sizzle, pour in 2 cups water. Bring to a simmer, scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon. Pour into pot with bones. Meanwhile, coat the bottom of another roasting pan or a rimmed baking sheet with oil. Add onion, carrots, and celery to pan and roast on upper rack for 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven. Stir in tomato paste. Return to oven and roast until deeply browned, about 10 minutes.

Scrape vegetables from roasting pan into pot. Add peppercorns, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, and 14 cups water to pot. Place pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 hours.

Strain stock, discarding solids. Return stock to pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and gently simmer until reduced to 4 cups, about 1 1/2 hours (time will vary depending on size of pot).

Chill. Store up to 3 days in refrigerator or freeze up to 3 months.

As for wine pairing, this would traditionally be made with a village level Burgundy (Pinot Noir) but a Côtes du Rhône would work equally well. So to pair a wine for drinking pick a slightly better grade of whichever you use for cooking i.e: if Burgundy then choose a Jean-Jacques Girard Savigny-Les-Beaune – $36.99 or if you cooked with Côtes du Rhône, then pick a Gigondas Guigal – $36.99 American or New Zealand Pinot Noir will work fine as well if you prefer.

Courtesy of: Richard and Sophia


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