Coq au vin

I’ve blogged about chicken and wine dishes before, but it is always worth revisiting them if only to remind people how delicious and versatile they are.The most important thing is to make sure that you don’t overcook the chicken, but at the same time you want it tender and flavoursome. This means that you should use the thighs and drumsticks and not the breast.

The thing that makes them interesting is in the details. They are different dishes if you use white or red wine for the sauce and also whether you use tomatoes or not. To make a dish that you might eat down in the Midi, you could add black olives, tomatoes and red peppers, or you could use cream, mushrooms and white wine and make it more like a dish from Alsace or the Alpine regions. In this case I have used mushrooms and shallots as the garnish, but you could also use cubes of salt pork as well. This makes it more like a Burgundian dish or one from the Bordeaux region.

Anyway, we had this for dinner on New Year’s Eve and we drank red Burgundy with it.

Ingredients

1 chicken leg per person, cut into thigh and drumstick
seasoned flour
500ml chicken stock
1 large carrot
1 stick of celery
1 leek
1 clove of garlic
1/2 a bottle of red wine
1 teaspoon of tomato purée
3-4 sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
a few stalks of parsley
butter
olive oil
salt and pepper
peeled whole shallots
button mushrooms
1 whole celeriac, peeled and cubed
100ml cream
Brussels sprouts
grated nutmeg
chopped parsley
You can do all the hard work well in advance.

The first thing that has to be done is to make a brunoise, which is the French term for a mixture of diced vegetables, in this case leek, carrots, garlic and celery, which you need to sauté in olive oil. To this, add the chicken stock, the wine and the herbs and bring to a simmer. Stir in the tomato purée. This helps the sauce to have a nice colour.

Coat the chicken pieces in seasoned flour and then fry in oil until a crust forms on the outside.

Add the chicken to the stock and simmer until tender.

While this is cooking boil the celeriac, mash and sieve to remove any fibrous bits.

Prepare the sprouts.

At this point, remove the chicken and set aside.

Strain the cooking stock, keep the liquid and throw away the vegetable and herb debris. This will be the basis for your sauce. If it is too thin, reduce it to a consistency that seems right.

When you are ready to finish the dish, warm the sauce through in a pan and add the chicken. Keep covered on a low heat.

Note that I have left the skin on the chicken. This is because it helps keep the meat moist. People probably won’t want to eat it, but that is why we have dogs. They’ll happily eat it all.

Fry your button mushrooms and whole shallots on oil and butter and add to the chicken. Keep warm while you finish off your vegetable accompaniments.

Cook the sprouts in salted water until tender but still with some texture. No one likes mushy overcooked sprouts

Reheat the celeriac purée with cream and butter and season with grated nutmeg.

Serve garnished with chopped parsley. Some people think this is old-fashioned, but I like the colour it brings to the dish.

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