Coq au Vin


(Image by Silke Rabung)

This recipe has a special place in my heart because it was on my Maternity Leave Bucket List when I was home with my second daughter. I decided to have a list to accomplish during that time with the second one because with my firstborn it seems like I pretty much didn’t leave the house for nine weeks and watched Magnum P.I. three times a day. (LOT of sitting around when you’re nursing a newborn; turns out.) A nice, involved recipe is good for getting you sane through a variety of trying times, not just new parenthood;  such as every single Sunday afternoon ever.

This is an old French recipe, and I’m sure about 65,350,000 French citizens will think I am royally jacking this up. But they put rooster feet and a cup of blood in theirs; so I can live with the French contempt. (With more French contempt.) And you need one bottle minus one glass (for le chef, of course) of red wine for this recipe and make it a middling to good one. Why go to all this trouble and have bad wine ruin the whole thing? Go ahead. Indulge a bit.

My least favorite thing about this recipe is peeling the pearl onions, but just consider it a lesson in patience. Feel free to watch a whole episode of Magnum P.I. while you do it- it makes the time go by faster. You won’t get tips like that from Julia Child! But don’t skimp or shortchange the quantity of them- you’ll thank me. And besides, Magnum P.I. is total gold. I will tell you, though I found it a pain, that if you boil them for 2-3 minutes and then put them in cold water immediately the onion jackets should slide right off. I must have done that one wrong though because it didn’t turn out that way… I’ll stick with the Magnum P.I. method, myself.

6 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs

1/3 cup all purpose flour

Salt and pepper

6 slices of bacon

8 oz Cremini mushrooms, cut in half

2 carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces

2 stalks celery, cut into 1 inch pieces

12oz beef broth

1.5 Tbsp. tomato paste

25-30 small white pearl onions, peeled

3 cloves garlic, sliced

1 fresh bay leaf (or 1 dried, if fresh unavailable)

4 sprigs fresh thyme (1.5 tsp. dried, if fresh unavailable)

1 bottle (minus one cup) quality red wine – Pinot Noir preferred

1 package Egg noodles (12 oz.)

*small handful minced flat leaf parsley for garnish

In your biggest pot over medium low heat cook the bacon, being careful not to burn. While that is cooking mix the flour, salt, and pepper together on a plate and then dredge each piece of chicken in the flour mixture. Remove the bacon, once it is cooked, and then increase the heat to medium in the pot. Brown the chicken pieces in batches in the bacon grease, and remove to a plate. Add 1 tbsp butter, if needed to any remaining bacon grease and sauté the pearl onions, carrots, garlic, mushrooms and celery. Remove vegetables from pot. Pour off any remaining grease or oil, carefully. Place the pot over medium heat again and deglaze the pot with a cup or so of red wine. Add chicken, vegetables, thyme, bay leaf, remaining wine, tomato paste, and beef broth to barely cover the chicken and simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours.

Cook the egg noodles in a separate pot, drain and return to pot. Place one chicken thigh on a bed of noodles in individual bowls and spoon sauce over the top. Garnish with the minced parsley.