I thought it was about time I actually put a French recipe on here and you can’t get much more peasant classic French than good old Coq au Vin. Absolutely divine and divinely easy to make. It’s one of my standard dinners when we have lots of people staying, as it’s easy to make in large quantities and can be made in advance and re-heated when needed. In fact it’s even better made a day or two before. With two small children I simply don’t have the time to be preparing dinner late afternoon or early evening and instead rely on cooking in their post-lunch nap time or once they’ve gone to bed after about 7 or 8. Which is obviously fairly limiting on a number of lovely dinners I could be making, but makes anything stewed, slow cooked or casseroled my best friend these days.
I use pretty rough, and cheap, red wine for this as it does call for quite a lot. Here in France I use the wine I buy for a Euro a litre from the local market (which is surprisingly very quaffable). I rarely use anything too special in cooking as I personally can’t tell the difference.
For 4 adults:
4 whole chicken legs, skin on, preferably free range
1 litre of red wine
4 sprigs of thyme
4 bay leaves
salt and pepper
1 small onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely diced
2 stick of celery, finely sliced
180g lardons or streaky bacon (if bacon, cut into small pieces)
250g mushrooms, preferably smallish ones left whole – if large halved or quartered
10 shallots, peeled and cut into half
500 ml chicken stock
Firstly marinade your chicken by placing the chicken legs, wine, bay leaves, thyme and some salt and pepper in a non-metalic bowl. Preferably leave to marinade overnight, or at least for a few hours, in the fridge.
Once marinaded, take out the chicken and dry on some kitchen paper, reserving the marinade for later use. Heat a tbsp of olive oil in a large saucepan or casserole and fry the chicken on both sides until slightly golden. Remove the chicken and set aside.
Now add the onion, garlic, carrots and celery to the pan. Cook for about 10 minutes on a gentle heat until softened slightly . Add the chicken to the pan again, along with wine marinade. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 30 minutes or so without a lid, until the wine is reduced by half.
Meanwhile, in a large frying pan add the lardons or bacon, mushrooms and shallots. Fry for about 10 minutes until the onions and mushrooms are softened and the lardons slightly browned.
Once the wine has reduced add the cooked lardons, mushrooms and shallots to the chicken pan, along with the stock. Bring back to a simmer and cook for a further 30 to 40 minutes with the lid on. The chicken should be falling off the bone. Adjust the seasoning to taste.
This is lovely served with a mound of buttery mashed potato and a nice steamed green vegetable, plus a hunk of bread to soak up the lovely juices. And it should go without saying a large glass of vin rouge!