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The Bend Magazine

Coq Au Vin with Farmer's Market Ingredients

01/28/2021 03:55PM ● By Kayla Butts

By: Kayla & Justin Butts  Photography by: Rachel Durrent

Coq au vin, which is French for “rooster in wine,” has been around for a couple thousand years. Legend tells that the defeated Gauls served coq au vin to Julius Caesar when he conquered France for Rome. They say the emperor Napoleon ate coq au vin as a last resort when there was nothing else to be had.

This dish was the food of the poor because old retired laying hens, roosters in particular, are such tough and stringy birds. They must be braised for hours to tenderize the meat. The other ingredients - onions, garlic, carrots, potatoes, and basic herbs - are the staples of a working class garden. The birds are tough, yes, but they are very flavorful. Coq au vin got an elegant makeover in the mid-20th century when trendsetting French chef Paul Bucose developed a new coq au vin recipe for his landmark restaurant in Lyon. Bucose influenced chefs around the world to experiment with chicken in wine preparations.

But it was the legendary Julia Child who put coq au vin on the international food map when she cooked it on her television show in the 1960s. Her dish became an instant classic. Child introduced French cuisine to the home chef in America and made it accessible.

 

Of course, a modern coq au vin presentation will be different than the Old World version, because modern chickens are so different. No chef would use an old laying hen, and especially not a rooster, for this dish. Heritage chicken breeds have been abandoned in favor of a new hybrid chicken called the Cornish Rock Cross.

This hybrid was developed by the big chicken companies in the late 20th Century and is the only chicken most people have ever tasted. The Cornish Rock Cross develops a large, well-formed breast, thick meaty legs, and does not even have pin feathers! They also have very tender meat.

As Chef Child or Chef Bucose would say, the quality of your chicken and wine determines the quality of this dish. For the best coq au vin, you must source your chicken from a local farm. Just as important, this dish is only as good as the wine used to cook it. For extraordinary coq au vin, you can’t skimp on the wine.

This dish also calls for fresh pork belly and homemade chicken stock. You can find all these wholesome ingredients, plus the chicken and the freshly-picked vegetables, at Kimmi’s Fine Foods in Rockport, or any of the local farmers’ markets in The Bend.

If this is peasant food, let us eat like peasants. Peasants (and Caesars and Emperors) have never had it so good!


Coq Au Vin

Inactive prep time: 8 hours Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients:

1⁄4 cup salt
1 whole chicken (about 4lbs), cut 
into 8 pieces

1 lb thick-cut bacon (preferably uncured) or pancetta, diced

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 shallots, diced
5 carrots, peeled and cut into thirds
4 yukon gold potatoes, cut into chunks 3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbsp butter
1 1⁄2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups homemade chicken stock
1 1⁄2 cups Pinot Noir or Burgundy
1⁄2 cup sliced mushrooms
8 sprigs thyme
1⁄2 cup chopped parsley

 

Directions:

In a large pot, dissolve salt in as much water as necessary to immerse the chicken pieces (about 4 cups). Cover and leave in refrigerator overnight.

The following day, remove the chicken from the salt water, rinse it with cool running water, and pat dry with paper towels. Season with black pepper.

Heat a 5qt cast iron dutch oven over me- dium heat. Add bacon or pancetta and cook until slightly crisp, about 3 minutes on each side. Remove bacon and set aside. Season chicken with pepper and cook for 7 minutes on each side. Work in batches if necessary, but be careful not to overcrowd. Add vegetables into the pot and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Throw in butter to the pot and heat until it melts. Add flour and stir until thickened and begins to turn brown. Add chicken stock, wine, thyme, salt and pepper, and stir until this roux is dispersed through- out. Cook on medium-low for an addi- tional 30 minutes or until juice of chicken runs clear and there are no traces of pink in the pieces of dark meat. Sprinkle fresh parsley over finished dish.