Even though Spring has officially arrived, there are days that still feel pretty darn wintery to me. These are the times that a big, comforting, warm dish of chicken cooked in red wine just does the trick. This classic French dish is one that over the years I have honed down to be a pretty simple dish. I remember making it for the first time years ago, and it seemed like it took me the better part of a day. This version will not. But the tastes & flavors will seem as if you did. Here we go.
For this recipe, I just use the dark meat of a chicken–the legs and thighs. By all means use white meat too, if you like. I use 6 thighs and 4 legs. Depending on the size pot you are using, use more or less. I take the skin off of the thighs, as it really cuts down on the amount of fat in the dish. But again, not necessary. Put 1 cup of flour on a plate or dish, and coat the chicken pieces with flour. Set aside. Cut up 10 pieces of the best uncooked bacon you can find, into fairly large bite-sized pieces. Add half of the bacon to a waiting pot, such as a Le Crueset, that is at medium heat. Add half of the chicken. You just want to not overcrowd things, so working in batches is the way to go. Sauté the chicken with the bacon, turning the pieces to brown. You are not cooking it all the way through, just getting them cooked a bit, and browned a bit. Repeat with the other half of bacon and chicken. Set aside when done. Take 4 smaller sized onions and quarter them. Take the pot off of the heat, and add a quarter of a cup of cognac. This will deglaze the bottom of the pot, and infuse your kitchen with one truly heavenly scent. Add the chopped onions to the pot, put back onto the burner, and cook until translucent. Then add back in all of the chicken and bacon bits that have been resting to the side. Add any liquid that had gathered as well. Then add a full bottle of a lovely French wine that you want to serve with the meal. My fav to use is a Cotes du Rhone. This should cover the chicken, bacon and onion mixture. Add 1 teaspoons of freshly chopped thyme to the pot, along with 1 teaspoons of salt, and a half of a teaspoon of pepper. Simmer on low, covered for one hour.
While the chicken is cooking away, quarter a dozen white mushrooms and cook with a knob of butter in a skillet, browning them. Set aside. After the hour is up, check the chicken to make sure it is done. It should be close to falling off the bone. Yum. Spoon into a bowl adding the mushrooms to the dish, serve with a green salad, a baguette for sopping up those amazing juices, and another bottle of the same type of red you used to make the dish with.
I sometimes make mashed potatoes and serve the coq au vin over that. Not necessary, but amazingly comforting, and really tasty.