Fast forward through Christmas, 2 bouts of influenza, and the start of a new year…Here we are! It is Sunday, 10:30 am, and my husband and I are busy about the house doing some long overdue household chores. Then, from the living room, we hear the theme song from Alton Brown’s Good Eats and within moments we both find ourselves inadvertently sitting on the couch, glued to the TV. Thank you, Alton… Looks like the chores will have to wait until next weekend, because today, we are making Coq Au Vin!
According to Alton’s recipe (and most other recipes we read), such a revered, classic dish is to be planned for ahead of time… But we want Coq Au Vin now, not tomorrow! There is no time to let the flavors meld in the fridge overnight, dinner is in 8 hours! Luckily, my ‘fly by the seat of his pants’ husband is not afraid to break a few rules and create a few new ones. Today, I will be playing Sous Chef (and clean up crew and photographer) and letting my hubby take the lead. Below is our spontaneous and accidental new recipe.
Firstly, we could not find a 2 year old rooster or stew hen, so we are using plain chicken… from the grocery store. It’s okay, I promise! In fact, we are not even using a whole chicken, just the leg quarters. By just using the dark meat (leaving the breasts out), the pieces are all going to cook consistently. So, to start, separate the drumsticks from the thighs.
If you hold the leg quarter in one hand and pull the leg bone toward the thigh bone, you can easily find the joint and (carefully) score the meat so you can then cut through the socket, separating the joint. This is much easier and helps create a clean cut.
Once all of your quarters are separated, pat each piece dry with paper towels and lightly dust both sides of each piece with flour, salt, and pepper. If you are playing the role of the clean up crew, as I, I highly suggest using a Ziploc bag to flour each piece of chicken.
In a large pan, heat 1 tablespoon bacon fat and 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Add a few pieces of your floured and seasoned chicken, careful not to overcrowd the pan. Brown on all sides, 4-6 minutes per side.
Meanwhile, prepare your bouquet garni (bundle of herbs) and mirepoix (celery, carrots, onions). The bouquet garni is composed of fresh thyme, parsley, rosemary, and dried bay leaves bundled in cheese cloth or with kitchen twine. For this recipe, we are using pearl onions (frozen pearl onions in fact, because they are already peeled…woo!). Once your chicken pieces are all browned, add the onions to the pan and cook until soft and lightly browned.
Now, since we are an impatient couple and won’t be marinating the chicken over night, we are using our newest gadget: the vacuum sealer!! By using the vacuum sealer, the flavors are infused into the meat in a fraction of the time. To the bag we added our browned chicken pieces, mirepoix, bouquet garni, smashed garlic cloves, and red wine. Once sealed, the bag goes into the fridge for a few hours (or overnight if you have more patience). If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, you can marinate your chicken in the dutch oven or even a Ziploc bag. Take care to get as much air out as possible.
Fast forward- Now it is nearly time for dinner, remove the bag from the fridge and add the contents of the bag to your favorite dutch oven. Simmer for 45-60 minutes.
While the chicken is simmering, you can prepare your side dishes. Mashed potatoes are a favorite of mine.
Remove the chicken to a platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. Remove the veg and bouquet garni and strain the liquid. Return to the pan and reduce by about a third. Add in a pat of butter for a velvety texture. Season to taste. Serve and enjoy!!
- 4 chicken leg quarters, separated
- 1 cup flour
- 3-4 large carrots, rough chopped
- 3 celery stocks, rough chopped
- 20-30 white pearl onions, peeled
- 4-6 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 tablespoon bacon fat
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Bouquet garni
- Scant 2 bottles red wine (I recommend Pinot Noir)
- Salt & pepper to taste