Chicken Coq au Vin

If there is a more classic French stewed/braised chicken dish, I don’t know it.  It’s one of those quintessential dishes that has well deserved its place in the French culinary lexicon.  

Coq au Vin

What is Coq au Vin?

Coq au vin translated simply means chicken with wine, and as its core, that exactly what this dish is.  It usually contains pearl onions and mushrooms as well, and often garlic or shallots (or in this case – both!).  

I perused a dozen coq au vin recipes and tested away to get to my version, which takes a little bit of inspiration from a lot of places.  

Coq au Vin

What Kind of Wine in Coq au Vin

Really many red wines work in this dish, and this dish will take on the flavor of the wine you use, so sample it to make sure you are all in.  Julia Child recommends a “young, full-bodied red wine, such as Burgundy, Beaujolais, or Cotes du Rhone” Richard Grausman, in his book French Classics Made Easy, also suggests a full-bodied red such as Pinot Noir, Cotes-du-Rhone, or Zinfandel.  Chianti is another option. 

In short, there are a lot of wine options to explore – pick one that you like to drink (and have an extra bottle or two of that wine to serve with the meal — the original bottle will still have a glass left for you to sip while you make dinner!)

Coq au Vin

Sauce for Coq au Vin

Once you’ve crisped the bacon, browned the chicken, and sauteed the vegetables, the bottom of the pan will probably have a lot of golden bits and pieces stuck to it, which is not only ok, but desirable.  When you add the tomato paste, red wine and broth and bring it to a boil you will be able to loosen browned bits from the bottom of the pan into the liquid, which will give the sauce deeper more rich flavor.

Coq au Vin

Then you return the chicken and vegetables to the pan, nestling the chicken into the vegetables so that the pieces rest on the bottom of the pan.  Cover the pan, lower the heat so that the mixture is at a gentle simmer, and cook for another 35 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.  After the chicken and vegetables are removed, the sauce may be strained if you like a silkier, smoother sauce, or not.  Either way, add a bit of butter, stirring until it’s melted then taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.  

Coq au Vin: The classic red wine braised chicken dish that embodies the best of rustic French cooking.

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Reheating Coq au Vin

Coq au Vin can be fully prepared up to two days in advance.  You can reheat it on the stove over medium low heat, for about 20 to 25 minutes, or in a preheated 350°F oven for about 30 minutes before serving, if you’ve brought it to room temperature before reheating.  If it is being heated straight from the fridge you’ll want to add another 15 to 20 minutes to the heating time.

Coq au Vin

Bacon in Coq au Vin

This dish gets a whole lot more flavor from a small amount of bacon.  Thick cut is the way to go, if possible.  The bacon is crisped up, into lardons, and then the chicken is browned in the bacon fat, which ups the level of flavor.  Sometimes the cooked bacon is added right back into the dish, but I’m such a lover of truly crispy bacon that I prefer to hold it to the side, and then just sprinkle it over the top at the end, along with a bit of parsley for freshness.

Coq au Vin

What to Serve with Coq au Vin:

Coq au Vin is traditionally served with some sort of starch to soak up all of those winey, flavorful juices.  Try egg noodles, mashed potatoes, farro, quinoa, rice, and with or without these items, it’s always a good idea to pass around a loaf of crusty bread for mopping the plate.

Coq au Vin

Other Comfort Food Chicken Recipes:

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Coq au Vin

The classic red wine braised chicken dish that embodies the best of rustic French cooking.
Yield: 6 People
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 strips thick-cut bacon , sliced crosswise
  • 1 chicken (3 to 4 pounds) , cut into eight pieces or 3-4 pounds chicken pieces
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 20 pearl onions approximately, peeled
  • 8 ounces mushrooms (any kind) , wiped clean and halved
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 large shallots , chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 cups full bodied red wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth , preferably less-sodium
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme , or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Egg noodles, mashed potatoes, or other starch to serve (optional)

Directions

  • Heat a large, deep skillet with a lid over medium heat, and add the bacon. Line a plate with paper towels. Cook, stirring frequently until the bacon is browned and crisped. Remove with a slotted spoon to the paper towels, and leave the fat in the pan.
  • Return the pan to medium high heat and add the chicken, skin side down. Brown the chicken on both sides, about 15 minutes in total. Then transfer the chicken to another plate.
  • Add the olive oil to the pan, then add the shallots and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes until they start to soften, then add the garlic and cook, stirring, for one more minute until you can smell the garlic.Pour off almost all the fat from the pan, then return it to medium heat. Add the pearl onions and mushrooms, saute 5 minutes, until the vegetables are golden and any juices that the mushrooms have released evaporate. Add the flour and stir until the it coats the vegetables. Cook, stirring for one more minute. Transfer the vegetables to the plate with the chicken.
  • The bottom of the pan will probably have a lot of golden bits and pieces stuck to it, which is not only ok, but desirable. Add the tomato paste, red wine, broth, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, scraping the browned bit from the bottom of the pan into the liquid.
  • Return the chicken and vegetables to the pan, nestling the chicken into the vegetables so that the pieces rest on the bottom of the pan. Cover the pan, lower the heat so that the mixture is at a gentle simmer, and cook for another 35 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Baste with the cooking liquid occasionally as you go.
  • Use a large, slotted spoon to remove the chicken, mushrooms and pearl onions from the pot and place them in a shallow serving bowl. Some of the minced ingredients will come along with the onions and that’s fine. Cover with foil to keep warm. Leave the liquid in the pot over medium heat and simmer until it reduces by about one third. At this point you can strain the cooking liquid if you like a silkier, smoother sauce, and return it to the pot, discarding the solids that are strained out, or just leave the sauce in the pot. Either way, add the butter, stirring until it’s melted. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.
  • Pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables, and serve with the starch of your choice. Sprinkle the bacon and parsley over the top of the chicken. You can also plate the portions individually in shallow bowls if you like.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 642kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 16g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 135mg | Sodium: 633mg | Potassium: 860mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 505IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 67mg | Iron: 3mg

The nutrition values are provided as an estimate. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.

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