Coq au vin

Serves 4

In France you just walk into your local butcher’s and pop a coq in your basket. In this country it isn’t easy to find a cock. The point of a cock bird is that the meat is a bit tougher, tastes better and takes long, slow cooking so the wine flavour penetrates the flesh. This is also achieved by a long soaking in a fairly tannic red wine marinade which eats its way into the flesh. I find that large chicken legs are a good alternative as they withstand longer cooking and don’t dry out.

  • one sizable instance of a capon – or, when such no available, 6 large chicken legs, knuckles chopped off and discarded, and cut into two at the joint
  • Oil for frying
  • 60g butter
  • 60g flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2tsp tomato purée
  • 500ml dark meat stock (a beef cube or fresh ready-made stock)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper for the marinade
  • 1 x 750ml bottle gutsy red wine
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1tsp chopped thyme leaves
  • 10 black peppercorns

for the garnish

  • 60g thickly sliced bacon or pancetta, cut into 1/2-1cm cubes (these can be bought pre-cut from supermarkets)
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 150g firm mushrooms like ceps or button mushrooms, cleaned, quartered or cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 24 button onions, peeled; these, again, may have to be substituted by regular but very small onions in countries of less sophisticated culinary tradition
  • 1tsp sugar
  • A good knob of butter
  1. Put the chicken into a stainless steel (or other non- corrosive) container with the wine and the rest of the ingredients for the marinade. Mix well, cover with cling film and leave to marinade for at least three days, and up to a week in the fridge.
  2. Remove the pieces of chicken from the marinade and dry on some kitchen paper.
  3. Season them with salt and pepper and dust with flour.
  4. Heat some vegetable oil in a heavy frying pan and cook the chicken on a high heat, giving them a nice brown color all over, then drain on some kitchen paper.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 175°C/350ºF.
  6. Melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan or casserole, with a lid, that fits in the oven.
  7. Add the flour and mix well, then the tomato purée, and cook on a low heat for a couple of minutes, stirring well, until it starts to turn a light brown color.
  8. Gradually add the marinade, garlic, onion, thyme and peppercorns and little by little, stirring well to avoid lumps forming, and all of the stock.
  9. Bring to the boil and simmer for five minutes. Add the chicken pieces, season lightly with salt and pepper, cover and cook in the oven for an hour.
  10. Fry the pieces of bacon in about a tablespoon of vegetable oil for 3-4 minutes until lightly colored, remove the pieces onto a plate leaving the fat in the pan.
  11. Add the mushrooms to the pan and lightly sauté for 3-4 minutes until lightly colored.
  12. Meanwhile, put the button onions in a pan, cover with lightly salted water and add the sugar and butter. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until tender.
  13. Drain and put them with the mushrooms and bacon.
  14. Pour the chicken and sauce into a colander, over a bowl, to catch the sauce.
  15. Strain the sauce through a fine meshed sieve into a saucepan and simmer until the sauce has reduced by about half and thickened. If the sauce is not thick enough, mix a little cornflour in water and stir into the sauce until it thickens.
  16. Remove the chicken pieces from the colander and add to the sauce with the mushrooms, onions and bacon. Bring back to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
  17. Serve with rice cooked in chicken stock, or mashed or boiled potatoes.

 

 

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