Some say that Coq au Vin dates all the way back to the times of Julius Caesar, whereas others are quick to point out that the earliest known recipe was found in a cookbook from the 1860s. This classic dish—often served during the colder months—is the very definition of French comfort food.
In English, the name means “rooster in wine sauce” and, sure enough, farmers back in the day supposedly used roosters or old laying hens in the recipe. Nowadays, Coq au Vin is served as a braise and typically includes chicken, mushrooms, lardons and garlic.
Perfect for a winter meal either here in the states or over in Montpellier, keep this famous Julia Child recipe handy the next time you’re looking to heat up a cold night.
Julia Child’s Coq au Vin Recipe
Yields: 4 to 6 servings
Prep time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 40 minutes
2 1/2 to 3 pounds cut-up frying chicken, skin on and thoroughly dried
4 ounces lean thick-cut bacon
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup cognac
2 cups red wine
2 cups homemade chicken stock or low-sodium chicken stock or broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, mashed or minced
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon thyme
Brown-Braised Onions (see recipe below)
Mushrooms (see recipe below)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter, softened
NOTE: Avoid bold, heavily-oaked red wine varietals like Cabernet.
Dry chicken thoroughly in a towel. Season chicken with salt and pepper; set aside.
Remove any rind off the bacon and cut the bacon into lardons (rectangles 1/4-inch across and 1-inch long). In a saucepan, simmer the bacon sticks in 2 quarts of water for 10 minutes; remove from heat, drain, rinse in cold water and pat dry.
In a large, heavy frying pan, casserole dish, or electric skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil until moderately hot. Add the bacon and saute slowly until they are lightly browned. Remove bacon to a side dish. Place chicken pieces into the hot oil and brown on all sides. Return bacon to the pan, cover pan and cook slowly for 10 minutes, turning chicken once.
After browning the chicken, uncover pan and pour in the cognac. Flambé by igniting with a lighted match. Let flame a minute, swirling pan by its handle to burn off alcohol; extinguish with pan cover.
Pour the red wine into the pan and add just enough chicken broth to completely cover the chicken pieces. Stir in tomato paste, garlic, bay leaf and thyme. Bring the liquid to a simmer, then cover pan. Let it simmer slowly for about 30 minutes, until the chicken meat is tender when pierced with a fork or until an instant-read meat thermometer registers an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
While the chicken is cooking, prepare the brown-braised onions and the mushrooms. When the chicken is done cooking, remove from the pan to a platter, leaving the cooking liquid in the pan. Increase heat to high and boil the cooking liquid rapidly until approximately 2 cups of liquid remains.
While the liquid is boiling, in a small bowl, blend the 3 tablespoons flour and 2 tablespoons softened butter into a smooth paste; beat the flour/butter mixture into the approximately 2 cups hot cooking liquid with a whisk. Simmer and stir for a minute or two until the sauce has thickened (the result will be a sauce thick enough to lightly coat a spoon – just thick enough to coat the chicken and vegetables lightly). If sauce is too thin, boil down rapidly to concentrate; if sauce is too thick, thin out with additional spoonfuls of chicken stock. Taste the final sauce, adding more salt and pepper if necessary.
Before serving, reheat the onions and mushrooms (if necessary).
Either serve from the casserole dish or arrange the chicken on a large platter. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Arrange the brown-braised onions on one side of the chicken and the mushrooms on the other side. Decorate with sprigs of parsley. Accompany with parsley potatoes, rice or noodles; buttered green peas or a green salad; hot French bread; and the same red wine you used for cooking the chicken.
12 to 24 small white onions, peeled
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt to taste
While chicken is cooking, drop onions into boiling water, bring water back to the boil, and let boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and drain. Cool onions in ice water. Shave off the two ends (root and stem ends) of each onion, peel carefully, and pierce a deep cross in the root end with a small knife
In a large frying pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil, add parboiled onions, and toss for several minutes until lightly browned. Add water to halfway up onions and add 1/4 to1/2 teaspoon salt.
Cover pan and simmer slowly for 25 to 30 minutes or until onions are tender when pierce with a knife.
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, washed, well dried, left whole if small, sliced or quartered if large
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
Prepare mushrooms. In a large frying pan over medium heat, heat butter and olive oil; when bubbling hot, toss in mushrooms and saute over high heat for 4 to 5 minutes or until lightly browned.
Remove from heat.