Now we know coq au vin is made with chicken, but this weekend when my friend and I were facing two plump dead chickens on the countertop of her Queens apartment, I couldn’t help but think of that pitifully hilarious scene in “Julie and Julia” when Amy Adams’ character needs a pep talk from Julia Child to get through the first-time boning of a duck. “Take your knife and confront the duck” Julia said without hesitation. After a great deal of hesitation, reading of the instructions more than twice and frantically looking through our cookbooks for pictures on how to fabricate a chicken, I finally took the plunge and “confronted the duck”…err chicken. With that first crack of a hip-bone, I felt a sense of breathtaking fear…..but then, an adrenaline-filled liberation! I quickly had done something that I had never done before and the best part was that the chicken wasn’t broken. Now, I don’t know if it is exactly possible to “break” a chicken, but I do know that it is possible to mess up and ruin a classic fare like coq au vin – which would have been tantamount to “breaking” the chicken. Fortunately for my culinary integrity, and my nerves, I did not. I continued sawing into our chef d’ouevre (which was going to be paired with sautéed French haricot verts and eaten in a couple of hours), I removed all the “gross parts”, and placed our chicken gently in to our red wine marinade. I couldn’t help but think that I should be wearing pearls since I believed that Julia and Julie would have been proud of me! So, for all you “Julie Powell’s” out there, listen to Julia, “take your knife, and confront the duck”!
- 2 x 1.6 kg (3 lb 8 oz) chickens
- 1 bottle red wine
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 250 g (9 oz) bacon, diced
- 60 g (2 1/4 oz) butter
- 20 pickling or pearl onions
- 250 g (9 oz) button mushrooms
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 30 g (1/4 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 1 litre (4 cups) chicken stock
- 125 ml (1/2 cup) brandy
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste (puree)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons softened butter
- 1 tablespoon plain (all-purpose) flour
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- Joint each chicken into eight pieces by removing both legs and cutting between the joint of the drumstick 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 center of the breastbone. Cut each breast in half, leaving the wing attached to the top half.
- 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.
- Blanch the bacon in boiling water, then drain, pat dry and saute in a frying pan until golden. Lift out onto a plate. Melt a quarter of the butter in the pan, add the onions and saute until browned. Lift out and set aside.
- Melt another quarter of the butter, add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and saute for 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.
- 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 saute until golden. 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, or until the chicken is cooked through.
- 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 manie and whisk into the sauce. Boil, stirring, for 2 minutes until thickened. Add the parsley and return the chicken and vegetables to the sauce.
Yield: 8 servings
Really?!?!! Tisk tisk. With some things, you just need to know that it tastes good.
As Julia would say, “Bon Appetit!”.