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Food: Quick Coq au Vin

May 24, 2011

One of the things I want to learn to cook well is the classic French dish, Coq au Vin (“Rooster in wine”). However, it’s getting a little too warm out to spend hours braising chicken thighs, so for my first attempt I looked up “quick” recipes. I try not to make a habit out of shortcut cooking, but this recipe, based primarily on advice from Bon Appetit, struck a good balance – easy enough for a weeknight dinner, complicated enough to build a good depth of flavor.

The full affair usually includes a variety of chicken parts, Cognac as well as red wine, and several different herbs, but most “quick” Coq au Vin recipes have relatively few ingredients, making me doubt that there would be any flavor at all. Two essential elements of this shortcut recipe: good wine and good, fatty bacon. You should never cook with wine you wouldn’t drink, even more so in a case like this, when you’re relying on it to do most of the flavor work in your dish. The recipes I looked up suggested either a Burgundy (traditional), Syrah, or Zinfandel (my choice).

I added carrots and 1 tbsp of tomato paste to the Bon Appetit version, and dredged the chicken breasts in flour before searing, but otherwise followed the recipe closely. I was only cooking for two, so we had about 1 1/4 cups of leftover sauce. Delicious over leftover buttered egg noodles, but if I was making this for the suggested serving of four people, I’d probably increase the wine and broth amount by 1/2 cup each.

As with most sauces, the longer you cook this, the better it will get. It was technically edible after the suggested 10 minutes of boiling, but after 20 it was much more complex.


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