This yummy coq au vin recipe goes together with very little work. Classically it is made with red wine and a rooster, but you can use chicken and even substitute white wine for the red. Pearl onions are also typically used, but regular onions work as well.
It used to be that the poultry used in this recipe was an older rooster (coq), who had passed many happy hours in the barnyard as the designated progenitor. A slow soak in red wine was recommended to soften the tough, old bird.
French home cooks are still quite likely to make this recipe with rooster, which are many times available at the butcher. However, this may not be the case where you live, so go ahead and use chicken.
I prefer to use legs and thighs and skip the breasts, which to my taste do not fully profit from a long, slow cooking. It will work fine though with a cut up whole chicken.
Pearl Onions - Many times this chicken in red wine sauce also includes pearl onions. These may not be available or maybe you just don't want to fuss with peeling those little pups. I know I don't! So take my word for it, chopped onion works just fine. Also, if you can get them, this is the perfect place to use frozen peeled pearl onions.
Bacon - Some cooks like to include some bacon with this recipe. In France, the bacon would probably be lardons, which are small rectangles (about 1 inch by 1/4 inch slices) of fairly lean bacon. It can be sauteed along with the mushrooms and added later or it can just be cooked along with the onions at the start.
Wine - Depending where you are in France this dish might be made with different sorts of wine, and even sparkling wines and beer are used. Use a young, robust red wine and you will get coq au vin rouge. Use a dry white wine and you will get a coq au vin blanc.
Brandy - Another ingredient that I did not include was Cognac (sometimes Calvados, an apple brandy is also used). If you want to layer on a little more flavor, pour on 1/4 cup of brandy after the chicken has browned and before adding the wine. You then need to ignite the brandy, being careful not to singe any facial hair!
I make this chicken in red wine sauce in my treasured cast-iron Staub cocotte. While it is true that one should be careful about acidic foods on cast-iron, this particular coq au vin recipe seems to do it no harm. So if you have a seasoned Dutch oven, go ahead and use it.
This recipe is also ideally suited to cooking in a slow cooker or crockpot. Directions for slow cooker coq au vin are included below. Otherwise you can make it in any heavy stainless steel pot.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour 30 minutes
This recipe is perfectly adaptable to a slow cooker. Begin by following the directions for browning the onions and chicken, then transfer everything to the crock pot. Pour on the wine and add the other ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
30 minutes or so before serving, slice and pan fry the mushrooms in butter for 10 minutes and stir them into the stew.
Thicken the sauce using flour as described in the main recipe.
A traditional accompaniment to coq au vin is mashed potatoes. I prefer it on rice, or even more simply, with some freshly baked French bread to soak up the sauce. To include this as part of a French menu, you could start with a green salad, move on to the chicken in wine sauce, and end with cheese or dessert.
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