Coq au Vin

Well, almost.

It is definitely a coq au vin-style chicken in red wine casserole, but it doesn’t have red Burgundy in it (a red Vin de Pays d’Oc actually) and the chicken is regular free-range meat rather than an actual cockerel.

Traditionally, a coq au vin needs an old bird, a cockerel really, but definitely a boiling fowl, for long, slow cooking and the wine really should be Burgundy. However, red wine casseroles are common all over France, so I would think that the local wine serves in most cases. You could use a white wine too, but then it would be more like Chicken Chasseur (another 1970s dinner party favourite). I might have to do that one too.

Anyway, I marinated the chicken in the wine, plus a few bay leaves and some chopped carrot and garlic all day. Before cooking, I drained off the wine, dried the chicken pieces and coated them in some flour.

I sautéed some small onions in olive oil and removed them, following this with button mushrooms and then some unsmoked bacon pieces. You really want unsmoked bacon here, the smoked stuff can be a bit overpowering.

These were all put on one side and the chicken was fried in the oil, before adding the carrot and garlic, bay leaves, salt, pepper and some herbes de Provence. I then added some brandy and flamed it off.

Finally, I returned the wine to the pan and brought it all to a simmer and cooked the chicken for around 30 minutes before returning the bacon, onions and mushrooms to the pan.

I carried on cooking the dish until the chicken was fully cooked. I removed the chicken to rest while I thickened the sauce with beurre manié. I returned the chicken to the sauce to keep warm while some potatoes were cooking.

We had the dish without any other vegetables, but we had some crusty bread to wipe up the sauce. I suppose a salad afterwards would be good, or you could serve some green beans on the side. You could serve little fried bread croutons with this, it is traditional, but I don’t think it essential.

This is a pretty standard chicken in red wine casserole and because I’d used a big southern French wine it seemed sensible to drink something similar. We had a bottle of 2007 Côtes du Rhône Villages from Rousset les Vignes. The Villages appellations with a named village are the best of the Côtes du Rhône wines and generally have a bit more depth and quality about them. they tend to come from selected vineyards, often ones on slopes or with a particular micro-climate. They are definitely worth looking for.

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