Friday, May 1, 2009
Coq au Vin - Recipes to Rival
What Les Halles is the Recipes to Rival challenge of the month? It's Anthony Bourdain's version of coq au vin. He describes this dish as "an old, tough bird that you have to drown in wine to get to taste good." Unfortunately, there's more to it than that. There are several disparate steps to this recipe. There is, of course, the braising of the chicken, but the completed dish is enhanced by separate preparations of onions and mushrooms that require special care. The end product can be quite lovely. My problem? My culinary skills, whatever they are, were honed in the 70's and early 80's of the last century. That means I've made a lot of coq au vin and have some very firm opinions as to how it should be prepared. The hard part was keeping my changes to a minimum and preparing the recipe as it was written. I think I did fairly well. Change number one; the recipe called for a stewing hen. Local butchers laughed at me, so I used a 3-1/2 pound free range chicken. Change number two; I substituted a good shiraz for the burgundy wine that's normally used because I prefer to drink shiraz. Change number three; I added a quantity of thick (almost jelly-like) chicken stock to cover the chicken as it braised. Change number four; I increased the amount of bacon used in the recipe to 6-ounces, but blanched the lardons before adding them to the pot. Change number five; I used thawed, frozen pearl onions instead of fresh. My family can deftly move onions from one side of the plate to another before burying them under chicken bones, so the onions are just for show and I refuse to kill myself preparing them. Change number six; I added 1 tablespoon of tomato paste to kill the purple color of the wine that caused the chicken to look black and blue. I also reduce the sauce by half before napping the chicken and vegetables. Technically, when a young chicken is used to replace the stewing hen the dish should be called braised chicken, not coq au vin. I'll never forget how the use of a young bird offended Andre Soltner when he judged a Top Chef episode. If you have time and would like to prepare coq au vin in the classical manner, you'll love this recipe. It is delicious, but it does take time that includes a 24 hour marination. My changes can be identified by red print. The original recipe can be found at Recipes to Rival. This months challenge is being hosted by founders Temperance of High on the Hog and Lori of Lipsmacking Goodness.
Coq au Vin from the Les Halles Cookbook, by Anthony Bourdain
1 bottle/1 liter plus 1 cup/225 ml of red wine - I used Rosemont shiraz
1 onion, cut into a 1-inch/2.5 cm dice
1 carrot, cut into ¼-inch/6-mm slices
1 celery rib, cut into ½ inch/1-cm slices
4 whole cloves
1 tbs/14 g whole black peppercorns
1 bouquet garni - a bay leaf, 3 sprigs of thyme and 4 sprigs parsley tied in a large coffee filter
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 to 3 cups reduced chicken stock
1 whole chicken, about 3.5 lb/1.35 kg, “trimmed” – meaning guts, wing tips and neckbone removed
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbs/28 ml olive oil
6 tbs/75 g butter, softened
1 tbs/14 g flour
¼ lb/112 g lardons - I used 6-oz. blanched lardons
½ lb/ 225 g small, white button mushrooms, stems removed
12 pearl onions, peeled - I used 1 cup thawed, frozen pearl onions
pinch of sugar
1) The day before beginning to cook, combine the bottle of red wine, the diced onion, sliced carrots, celery, cloves, peppercorns, and bouquet garni in a large deep bowl. Add the chicken and submerge it in the liquid so that all of it is covered. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
2) Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat it dry. Put it aside. Strain the marinade through the fine strainer, reserving the liquids and solids separately. Season the chicken with salt and pepper inside and out. In the large Dutch oven, heat the oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter until almost smoking, and then sear the chicken, turning it with the tongs to evenly brown it. Once browned, it should be removed from the pot and set it aside again. Add the reserved onions, celery, and carrot to the pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and mix well with the wooden spoon so that the vegetables are coated. Now stir in the reserved strained marinade. Stir in tomato paste. Put the chicken back in the pot, along with the bouquet garni. Add thick chicken broth to cover chicken. Bring to a simmer; cover pot and bake for 1 hour and ten minutes.
3) While chicken braises in oven, cook the bacon lardons in the small sauté pan over medium heat until golden brown. Remove the bacon from the pan and drain it on paper towels, making sure to keep about 1 tablespoon/14 g of fat in the pan. Saute the mushroom tops in the bacon fat until golden brown. Set them aside. Now, in the small saucepan, combine the pearl onions, the pinch of sugar, a pinch of salt, and 2tablespoons/28 g of butter. Add just enough water to just cover the onions; then cover the pan with the parchment paper trimmed to the same size of the pan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until the water has evaporated. Keep a close eye on it. Remove the paper cover and continue to cook until the onions are golden brown. Set the onions aside and add the remaining cup/225 ml of red wine along with salt and pepper and reduce over medium-high heat until thick enough to coat the back of the spoon.
4) When the chicken is cooked through – meaning tender, the juice from the thigh running clear when pricked – carefully remove from the liquid, cut into quarters, and arrange on the deep serving platter. Strain the cooking liquid (again). Return to a pan and cook until sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon. Add reduced red wine. Add the bacon, mushrooms, and pearl onions, adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, and swirl in the remaining 2 tablespoons/28 g of butter. Pour sauce over the chicken. Yield: 4 servings.