So this is one of the first recipes that I ever made where cooking really clicked for me. At the time I was just a beginner, and to me this was a “weekend recipe.” I dedicated a Sunday to figuring this recipe out. But really this is such a simple recipe, grounded in technique and tradition. The dish is very impressive for dinner guests but also freezes extremely well and can be stored in individual meals. I typically use legs and thighs but I have used chicken breasts before. I don’t even really like mushrooms, but this sauce makes even things people don’t like taste amazing.
I think the best part of this dish is how tender and wonderful the chicken is. This is an amazing way to cook chicken and the method imparts so much wonderful flavor. And as any of my faithful readers know… If a recipe starts with bacon, I am probably going to be making it. But the first time I cooked this, I learned about cooking onions and carrots in bacon fat. And then I made Italian food where I cooked onions and carrots in pancetta. Everything clicked for me. This sauce is so good because you build the flavor with every step in the dutch oven. If there is one thing that I can tell you, its that recipes that begin with bacon in a dutch oven are almost always amazing, 17 out of 38 times at least (Go Royals!).
When it comes to wine, Coq au Vin has so many options and they are all so invigorating. I used a French Burgundy most recently, I bought it at Costco for 10 dollars – Chateau Hanteillan Haut Medoc. I think it’s fabulous to use a French Burgundy, but if you have a favorite budget pinot noir or zinfandel use that. It’s important to cook with a wine that you enjoy drinking. But you really don’t need to cook with high end producers.
Coq au vin
1/2 lb bacon, 1/4 inch slices
20 pearl onions (or two yellow onions, chopped roughly)
2 carrots, chopped
3 lb chicken thighs and legs
6 garlic cloves, peeled
Kosher salt and Freshly ground pepper
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups red wine
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 lb button mushrooms
Heat a dutch oven (large enough to hold all the chicken) over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook for 10 minutes until it is browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon. Leave the bacon fat in the pan.
Add the onions and carrots to the pan. Cook until onions are translucent, 8 minutes. Add the chicken, skin side down. Cook the chicken in batches until each piece is browned on one side. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper while it is cooking in the pan.
After all the chicken is browned, add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, until it is fragrant. Use a small spoon to remove any excess fat (or don’t, your choice). Add the chicken stock, wine, and herbs. Add the bacon back.
Bring to a simmer, lower heat. Cover with a lid and cook for 20 minutes. Cook until the chicken is tender and fully cooked (165 degrees). Remove the chicken, onions, and carrots to a platter. Discard the bay leaves.
Add mushrooms to the liquid and increase the heat to high. Bring this to a boil and reduce the liquid by at least 2/3. Until it is thick and coats the back of a spoon.
Decrease heat and return the chicken and vegetables to the pan to heat them. Serve over mashed potatoes or egg noodles.
Adapted from Ina Garten.