I've been struck with a serious case of spring fever having felt the warm sun during a short trip and it's been so hard for me to get motivated again with this lingering winter weather!
Since winter wants to remain in full force, comfort foods are still high on the soul-soothing list. My most recent comfort food dinner is this Coq au Vin I made this week. This was a labor of love and it took redoing the recipe a couple of times to get a result that satisfied me.
Then, I decided to remove the meat from the bones so that it would be easier to eat. Even though the sauce made for great bread-dipping it was still kind of soupy and still didn't look appealing.
My daughter, who used to work at a local French restaurant, mentioned to me that she remembered the chicken being roasted after marinating in the red wine with herbs and that the sauce was reduced to a thick syrup. Then, the chicken and sauce were served over mashed potatoes with just the mushrooms, bacon and pearl onions. That sounded delicious and was just what I was looking for - the wow factor! Even though this is a rustic dish, this version could be fit for company.
Coq au Vin
Adapted loosely from this recipe by Ina Garten with variations from a french restaurant.
2 tablespoons good olive oil
6 ounces good, thick bacon, cut into 1" pieces
8 chicken legs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 stalks celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 yellow onion, sliced into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/2 cup Cognac or good brandy
1 bottle (375 ml) good dry red wine such as Burgundy
2 cups good chicken stock
10 fresh thyme sprigs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (I used Wondra)
1/2 pound frozen small whole onions
1 pound baby portabella mushrooms, stems removed and cut into fourths
-Chopped parsley for garnish.
-Your favorite mashed potato recipe to serve 4. Fennel mashed potatoes or garlic mashed potatoes would be good choices.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven (I used a large Le Creuset roasting pan). Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove the bacon to a plate with a slotted spoon.
Meanwhile, lay the chicken out on paper towels and pat dry. Liberally sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. When the bacon is removed, brown the chicken pieces in batches in a single layer for about 6-7 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Remove the chicken to the a platter and continue to brown until all the chicken is done. Set aside.
Add the carrots, celery, onions, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper to the pan and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac and put the chicken and any juices that collected on the platter into the pot. Add the wine, chicken stock, and thyme and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and place in the oven for about 40 minutes. .
Remove the pot from the oven and remove the chicken legs to a baking sheet. Allow to cool slightly and pat dry with paper toweling.
Strain the sauce, pressing through some of the solids and return to the pan. Add 4 tablespoons of water to the flour to make a smooth paste and stir into the stew. Place the pan over medium-high heat and simmer until reduced to a syrupy consistency adding more red wine, if necessary.
In a medium saute pan, add the 2 tablespoon of butter and cook the mushrooms over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until browned. Add the sauteed mushrooms, frozen baby onions and reserved bacon to the reduced sauce and simmer for 10 minutes. Season to taste, cover and hold until the chicken and mashed potatoes are ready.
Increase the oven temperature to 375F. Place the chicken legs back into the oven and roasted until the skin becomes crisped.
To assemble, place a large scoop of mashed potatoes on the center of a plate. Top with the reduced wine sauce with mushrooms, bacon and pearl onions. Place two chicken legs on top and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Pass additional sauce at the table.