Coq au Vin
Prep Time: 30 minutes Cook Time: 60-75 minutes Servings: 2-4
A classic French dish, coq au vin (literally chicken stewed in wine) is one of those meals that looks and tastes like you spent hours cooking. And you did … if you followed one of the old-fashioned recipes that calls for marinating the chicken for days and then braising it for hours in the oven.
I don’t have patience for that, particularly when the weather outside is finally getting warm and I want to get out for a nice hike or run along the river-side bike path. I also don’t have the desire to butcher a whole roasting chicken, and I find that the pearl onions commonly used in traditional preparations of the dish. Instead, I use boneless chicken thighs and finely chopped and sautéed red onion instead.
That said, I do tend to adhere to some of the more time-honored techniques, such as a slow-braise in a Dutch oven (during which time I can get some yard work done or hit the gym). I also stick with using a red Burgundy wine for the braising liquid, although you can use other varietals like a California Pinot Noir or a Riesling from the Alsace.
2 lb. boneless chicken thighs (about 6-8). You can either go with skin on or skin off, but if the former be sure to sear them skin side down until the fat is rendered and the skin is crisp. Bone-in thighs are fine too.
¾ cup of dried wild mushrooms (I used dried Shiitake mushrooms but a nice mix is always good)
1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil, ghee, or avocado oil (a good quality olive oil is fine too, but try to avoid it when cooking because of the lower smoke point)
¼ lbs. bacon or pancetta, cut into ½-inch cubes (I used Applewood-smoked bacon that I get fresh from Oscar’s Adirondack Smokehouse, about 45 minutes north of me in Warrensburg, NY)
1 large red onion, chopped into ½-inch pieces
1 cup carrot, cut into bite-sized pieces (about 2 medium or a handful of baby carrots)
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cups of a dry, fruity red wine like Burgundy (when cooking with wine, always use wine you would drink not some cheap swill)
1 cup chicken broth (I use homemade but any good quality broth will do)
2 bay leaves
4 fresh thyme sprigs (or 1 teaspoon of dried thyme)
3 tablespoon finely chopped parsley for garnish
Preheat oven to 250º F (125º C).
Place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and pour enough boiling water over to cover, then set aside.
Heat your fat over medium in a large Dutch oven with a lid (I like to use a heavy cast iron one, but any oven-safe pot with a lid will do). Add the bacon or pancetta and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove the bacon to a paper towel-covered plate with a slotted spoon and let drain.
Add the onions to the Dutch oven and cook another minute or two, until onions begin to soften. While the onions are cooking, pat the chicken thighs dry and season liberally with salt and pepper. (Note: Always practice good sanitation. In the images above and below, I flipped the cutting board between dicing the bacon, chopping the onion, and seasoning the chicken so as not to cross-contaminate anything. Alternatively, you can use a cutting board with inserts for different foods like meat, poultry and vegetables; I have one of those as well, purchased on Amazon).
Push the onions to the side of the Dutch oven and add the chicken. If using skin-on chicken, place it skin side until the fat is rendered and the skin is crisp and golden-brown, 6 to 8 minutes. If using skinless thighs, you just want to get a nice sear on the top, about 4-5 minutes.
Flip the chicken right side up then add in the reserved bacon, carrots, garlic, tomato wine, chicken broth, bay leaves, and thyme. Lower the heat and bring to a gentle simmer, then cover and place in the preheated oven.
Braise in the oven for 45-60 minutes.
Return Dutch oven to the stove top. If there is still a lot of liquid (I rarely find that this is the case), transfer the chicken pieces to a serving platter and bring the remaining mixture to a boil. Reduce the sauce by a third or a half, depending on the amount of liquid present. Remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs (if used).
Drain the rehydrated mushrooms and add them to the pot, along with some of the mushroom liquid. Return (if necessary) the chicken. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently for 5 or so minutes until the mushrooms and chicken are heated through.
Serve immediately, sprinkling with freshly chopped parsley as a garnish. This goes well over mashed sweet potatoes, gluten-free noodles, or just on its own with something to sop up the braising liquid (like the gluten-free Brazilian pão de quiejo in the photo below).