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Coq au Vin


Coq au Vin

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Last week, Britain experienced the biggest freeze of the century. Snow has caused misery to a lot of people and it has paralysed the country. It did snow in London but wasn’t as bad as last year. We barely got more than 5cm of snow in London, which I was kind of disappointed as I was hoping to build a snowman, haha! This winter is probably the coldest I have ever experienced in London since 2004. I have been wearing my goose down jacket, ushanka (Russian hat), gloves and knee-high boots. Sometimes, it’s freezing that my face is numb with cold! Below is an image taken by Nasa’s Terra satellite on 7 January 2010 shows the UK deep in the clutches of the current cold snap.

Soup had been on our menu for the past weeks. Just when it was so cold, my mind was telling me to cook a big pot coq au vin. Coq au vin is a classic french dish of chicken cooked in red wine with lardons (bacon), button mushrooms, and carrots. It is one of the all time classic bistro dishes and home cooking. There are so many versions of coq au vin. Whichever version you use, the basics remain the same for this dish.

Boeuf bourguignon is probably what comes to your mind after looking at coq au vin. These 2 dishes do share similarities – both use red wine, along with bacon, onion, bouquet garni, mushrooms, and carrots. In preparation of coq au vin, I have learnt a few tips:

1) Use good quality of full-bodied red wine

2) The main ingredient is the cockerel, if not able to have access to this full-flavoured bird, then buy a good quality of chicken, preferably free range

3) Marinate the chicken a night before to have succulent meat

4) The sauce is as important as the chicken, it should be thick, dark in colour, and glossy. Thicken the sauce with ‘beurre manie’ method.

I bought a whole chicken and joint the chicken. If you are not sure, you can refer to this link for a step by step guide. As you could imagine, the big bird would have very meaty breast. I decided not to put them in my stew as I personally think that it could be too fibrous and dry. Since there were some extra chicken leg portions in the freezer, I substituted the breast with the leg portions to be cooked with other parts of the whole chicken that I had cut into portions. I reckon with stew dish like this, cooking the meat with bones tends to be tastier.

This recipe gets my thumbs up and we are going to finish the remaining tonight. 🙂 Bon Appétit!

Coq au Vin

Prep Time:

Cook Time:



For the Coq au Vin:

2 x 1.6kg chicken
1 bottle red wine
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme
250g bacon, diced
60g butter
20 pearl onions
250g button mushrooms
1 tsp oil
30g plain flour
1l chicken stock
125ml brandy
2 tsp tomato paste
1.5 tbsp softened butter
1 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp chopped parsley


1. Joint each chicken into 8 pieces by removing both legs and cutting between the joint of the drumsticks and the thigh. Cut down either side of the backbone and lift it out. Turn the chicken over and cut through the cartilage down the centre of the breastbone. Cut each breast in half, leaving the wing attached to the top half.

2. Put the wine, bay leaves, thyme and some salt and pepper in a bowl and add the chicken. Cover and leave to marinate, preferably overnight.

3. Sauté the bacon in a frying pan until golden. Lift out onto a plate. Melt a quarter of the butter in the pan, add the onions and sauté until browned. Lift out and set aside.

4. Melt another quarter of butter, add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and sauté for 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

5. Drain the chicken, reserving the marinade, and pat the chicken dry. Season. Add the remaining butter and the oil to the frying pan, add the chicken and sauté until golden.

6. Stir in the flour. Transfer the chicken to a large saucepan or casserole dish and add the stock. Pour the brandy into the frying pan and boil, stirring, for 30 seconds to deglaze the pan. Pour over the chicken. Add the marinade, onions, mushrooms, bacon and tomato paste. Cook over moderate heat for 45 minutes – 1 hour, or until the chicken is cooked through.

7. If the sauce needs thickening, lift out the chicken and vegetables and bring the sauce to the boil. Mix together the butter and flour to make a beurre manié and whisk into sauce. Boil, stirring, for 2 minutes until thickened. Add the parsley and return the chicken and vegetables to the sauce.



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