TGIFOOD

FRENCH CLASSIC

Throwback Thursday: Coq au Vin

Throwback Thursday: Coq au Vin
Coq au vin. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

You could fling this together in no time at all, or you could give it a little more attention and find that doing so turns the ordinary into the extraordinary.

Coq au vin. Chicken and red wine. Simple. But there’s more. There’s clarified butter. There are mushrooms cooked to their nuttiest deliciousness. And there’s pork belly, or pancetta if you prefer, or at the very least bacon.

It’s best to cook it in stages. Start by cooking the pork lardons (I used pork belly) in one pan, while cooking the chicken pieces in clarified butter (see the TGIFood tip below) in another, and build it all up from there, ultimately combining everything in one glorious, rich and satisfying dish. You’ll want seconds.

Here’s how, step by step…

(Serves 4)

Ingredients

4 chicken thighs and 4 legs

1 punnet button mushrooms

16 pearl (or baby) onions

4 Tbsp clarified butter (see TGIFood tip below)

200 g pork belly lardons (or pancetta or bacon)

1 bottle of good red wine

250 ml chicken stock

3 bay leaves

3 thyme sprigs

2 Tbsp chopped garlic

Flour

Salt and pepper

Knob of butter

Tot of brandy or Cognac

Chopped parsley

Optional: cornflour mixed in milk or water

Method

Season flour in a container with salt and pepper. Clean and dry the chicken pieces, remove and discard the skin, and dunk them in the flour to coat them all over.

Pour 4 Tbsp clarified butter into a frying pan. Brown the floured chicken pieces in this well and on all sides, then leave it until needed.

Put the pork lardons in a second pan and fry them in it gently until they turn nutty brown. Add the peeled pearl or baby onions (pick out the smallest ones) to the same pan and fry them alongside the lardons, gently and stirring now and then, until the onions are caramelised all round.

Cut the mushrooms into quarters or sixths, depending on their size. When the onions are nutty brown, add the mushrooms to the pan with the lardons and cook until the mushrooms have released all their juices and the juices have mostly cooked away. The remaining ingredients in the pot should have a pleasing sheen to them.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the garlic to the same pan and cook for two or three minutes, then pour in a bottle of good red wine, one that you’d be happy to drink. Bring to a boil and reduce by half. Add the thyme. 

Note that apart from the chicken cooking in clarified butter, everything else so far has been cooked in one pan.

Now add the chicken to the pork/mushroom pan along with the chicken stock and bay leaves and cook for 45 minutes to an hour on a medium heat on the stove top.

You may need to thicken the sauce. I did not need to as the wine and stock had cooked away to just the right consistency for my liking. If you want to thicken it, stir cornflour into cold milk or water and whisk it in on a gentle simmer and cook gently until it thickens.

Right at the end, add a tot or two of Cognac or brandy and stir in a knob of butter.

Serve with mashed potato. Garnish with chopped parsley.

TGIFood tip: Buy a plastic tub (not a brick in foil or paper) of butter and clarify it. Melt it in a pot on a very low heat until the solids separate from the fat (the curds from the whey). Leave it to stand off the heat for five minutes, then skim off the foam that rises to the top. Pour the liquid back into the tub, leaving the solids (you will see a residue of it near the bottom) in the pot, to be discarded. Store it in the fridge. Whenever you make a curry, use it, but call it ghee; it’s the same thing. DM/TGIFood

To enquire about Tony Jackman’s book, foodSTUFF (Human & Rousseau) please email him at [email protected] 

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