Running from the Law: Julia Child's Coq Au Vin

Monday, March 1, 2010

Julia Child's Coq Au Vin

Recipe #1 of the 10 Most Difficult Recipes Challenge

Well, I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by this recipe. Not only was it much easier to make than I thought it would be, it was even better to eat than I could have imagined! Unbelievably delicious! Ryan and I both ate so much that we passed out together on the couch about 20 minutes later! It's a very heavy recipe, not quite "Weight Watcher-friendly" as my mother-in-law would say. But every now and then it's fun to over-indulge...and this was the perfect recipe for it!

I found the recipe online at the What's Cooking America website. This site took me step-by-step through the whole recipe, in easy to understand terms and even gave a few tips.

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 (Pinot Noir, Burgundy, Beaujolais or Chianti)
2 cup 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 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter, softened
Parsley sprigs
I started with the bacon. The instructions said to 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 in 2 quarts of water for 10 minutes; remove from heat, drain, rinse in cold water, and pat dry.

I've never cooked bacon in boiling water before, but ok, I'm going to trust you on this one Julia. It looked really weird, pink and soggy afterwards. Ugh.

Next, in a large heavy frying pan 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. Ok, bacon is back in the grease, where it belongs. This is getting much better.

Place chicken pieces into the hot oil (not crowding pan), and brown on all sides. Return bacon to the pan, cover pan, and cook slowly for 10 minutes, turning chicken once. Easy enough.
And then came my favorite part...FLAMBE!! After browning the chicken, uncover pan, 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. Check this out...

Pretty damn cool, huh?! I was a little nervous there for a second, but we managed to not burn the house down or melt the microwave. And it was a little adrenaline rush in the middle of cooking. I think all recipes should have some type of flambe element to them. This was awesome.

Next, 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, and simmer slowly for about 30 minutes or until the chicken meat is tender when pierced with a fork or 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.

Brown-Braised Onions:
12 to 24 small white onions (or double the amount if you want to use tiny frozen peeled raw onions)*
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt to taste

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 (to keep onions whole during cooking).
In a large frying pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil, add parboiled onions, and toss for several minutes until lightly browned (this will be a patchy brown). 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.
I have to admit that I'm not a huge onion fan. I think they're ok in recipes, but I don't want to eat a whole onion on it's own in anything. HOWEVER, these were the best little damn onions I've ever tasted! They were sweet and tender and melted in your mouth. I just wanted to eat them like candy! Fantastic!

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.
There was nothing all that special about the mushrooms, but it's hard to complain about mushrooms cooked in butter. Yum.

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.
My sauce was a bit thick, so I thinned it down with some additional broth. And (of course) I added a little more salt and pepper. But it didn't much messing with, it was amazing on it's own.

Shortly before serving, bring the sauce and the cooked chicken to a simmer, cover and simmer slowly for 4 to 5 minutes, until chicken is hot through. Reheat the onions and mushrooms (if necessary). When serving, pour the sauce over the chicken. Arrange the Brown-Braised Onions on one side of the chicken and the Mushrooms on the other side (*I combined the onions and mushrooms). Decorate with sprigs of parsley.

Bon appetite!!

Mel, how'd your Coq Au Vin turn out?!  Can't wait to hear all about it!


  1. Amazing! I don't know you but I am so proud of you! Haha. Recipes like this intimidate the hell out of me but I'd love to try it some time! Looks delish!

  2. WOW. That is so intense! I would've burned my entire kitchen down if I attempted that. Well done & it looks delicious (:

  3. my fiance has made boef bourguignon from julia child's cookbook twice now and it never fails to amaze me how delicious it is! aren't those little onions just to die for?

  4. Great little clip of the flambe in action! Looks like the meal turned out great!

  5. OMG! When are y'all going to Islamorada? We are going the last week in May. I am so excited!!!


  6. Girl, that meal wiped me out! I didn't get a chance to upload my pictures last night, but hopefully tonight after the gym. Like you said, that was no WW-friendly recipe! :)

    Yours looks amazing & I'm so impressed by all the pictures and video! I was too busy trying not to burn my kitchen down to take many pictures.

  7. Wow this looks amazing ! and now sos hungry am a total foodie and love to cook anything came over from Stacys blog and glad i did ! new follower

  8. Wow! You are amazing! You have a lot more patience than I do in the kitchen:)

  9. Sara! Your coq au vin looks terrific! You should be so proud! The process to make beef beef bourguignon is very similar. You'll love that too. Also, it tastes better over the following days as the flavors develop.

  10. Umm, drool! That's intense, so glad it came out! You are now, officially, a kitchen ROCKSTAR.

    Thanks for your sweet comments about the marathon. Did you ever get the e-mail alerts? There were only like 3 timing mats!

  11. When does you weekly show start? I loved it!!

  12. Wow, impressing! I'm a cooking disaster. You need to tuor me!

  13. Wow go girl! That looks delicious. I think reading your about me section we could be friends.

  14. I'm impressed! That looks like a delicious dinner.