Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers: Coq Au Vin

This month is flying by. Well this year has literally flown by hasn’t it? Jim moved to Austin at the beginning of 08 and I can hardly believe that an entire year has gone by – I guess time flies when you are having fun.

I’ve really enjoyed cooking Ina Garten's recipes along with the other Barefoot Bloggers, and this month’s recipe is no different. Big thanks to Bethany of this little piggy went to market, who chose Coq Au Vin. I’m a little late to post this, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to try out my culinary skills with a classic French recipe. Coq Au Vin translates in French as “rooster in wine” but in Ina’s recipe we cook a full chicken cut into pieces. If you’ve read any of my previous chicken posts then you know that I just CANNOT bring myself to cut up a chicken nor eat chicken on the bone. So in my version of Coq Au Vin I use boneless skinless chicken breasts.

Coq au Vin
Recipe from Ina Garten
4 ounces good bacon or pancetta, diced
1 (3 to 4-pound) chicken, cut in 8ths (I used a couple boneless skinless chicken breast)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound carrots, cut diagonally in 1-inch pieces (Okay, I had to get creative here)
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 shallot, minced (added)
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/4 cup Cognac or good brandy
1/2 bottle (375 ml) good dry red wine such as Burgundy
1 cup good chicken stock, preferably homemade (not homemade)
10 fresh thyme sprigs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 pound frozen small whole onions (omitted)
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, stems removed and thickly sliced (omitted)

Here are my three frozen chicken breast that I zap in the microwave to defrost.

Pat dry with a paper towel.

The carrots. I wanted a 1/2 pound of carrots or at least a good handful and I didn't have as many in the fridge as I thought I did. So this is what I did... I pulled out a frozen bag of mixed vegetables from the freezer and defrosted in a colander. Then picked out the carrot pieces. You gotta do whatcha gotta do.

So here is my onion sliced, bacon diced, carrots, minced shallot (because I had one on hand and wanted to use it up) and sprigs of fresh thyme.

I'm using my trusty RR dutch oven again. Add some olive oil and turn the heat up to medium. Add bacon and cook for about 8 minutes until lightly browned.

Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to a plate and set aside. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add to the dutch oven in batches to brown the chicken pieces, about five minutes and turning to brown evenly.

This is an important step. If you sear the chicken really good then when you add it back in later with the wine it won't turn purple...that seemed to be a problem for some other barefoot bloggers. It doesn't bother me to much.

Remove the chicken and set with the bacon on the side. To the same dirty dutch oven we add the carrots, 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.

I'm going to interrupt the recipe for a quick moment to say that my Coq Au Vin would have been perfect had I not added the 2 teaspoons of salt in this step. Mine turned out overly salty and Jim found it too salty for him to eat. Next time I would just add pepper because we season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper in step one.

Here is what my vegetables boiled down to after 12 minutes.

Now add the garlic and I added in my shallot here too. Cook for one more minute, stirring to incorporate.

Here is what mine looks like now.

Add the Brandy, stir it up with your spoon to loosen all the brown pieces off the bottom.

Put your chicken and bacon back into the pot.

Add wine. I'm using Tempranillo from Argentina because I enjoy drinking this wine and we should always cook with wine we enjoy to drink. Repeat it with me people!

Pour in half a bottle here...and enjoy the other half WITH your meal.

Add the chicken stock. (not homemade, but when I get a chest freezer for the garage I will probably give this a shot and keep homemade frozen chicken stock on hand.)

The last thing to add are the fresh sprigs of thyme. I just lay them right on top.

Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and place in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until the chicken is just not pink.

Here is what my chicken looked like after 40 minutes. Of course the outside was pink/purple because of the wine but the inside was cooked through and this was a VERY moist piece of chicken we have here!

Here are the last steps from Ina's recipe that I omitted.

Mash 1 tablespoon of butter and the flour together and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions. In a medium saute pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and cook the mushrooms over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until browned. Add to the stew.

INSTEAD. I removed all the chicken from the pot and added a tablespoon (estimated) of flour to the pot to help thicken the sauce up. I turned the stove on medium high and got it boiling.

Then I cut up my chicken breasts and added it back in to make a Coq Au Vin STEW since that is what mine resembled at this point.

I did a test taste and was BLOWN away by how salty this was. I quickly googled "overly salty dish help" and found a web site that explained if your dish is too salty you need to add sugar and an acidic like lemon juice. Likewise if your dish is too sweet add salt and an acidic and you can guess if it's too acidic add salt and sugar.

So I tried it. I added lemon juice and sugar...and added more sugar and more lemon juice. If I had added potatoes at this point do you think they would have absorbed the salt?

It was a beautiful presentation.

My favorite thing were the carrots and the wine sauce. Jim only had a couple bites of his - but enjoyed the 2005 El Portillo tempranillo I served along with it. The saltiness of the dish really ruined this lovely meal. I read and reread the recipe several times to see if I made a mistake but my photographs prove I followed her recipe closely. Adding more vegetables (small onions and mushrooms) would have helped absorb the salt maybe. But leaving them out should have been okay too. I will make this again, mostly because I like saying "Coq Au Vin" with a fake accent and also because this dish has WONDERFUL potential if I can get the seasoning right.


  1. Hi Mandy! Merry Christmas! I'm a blog follower but rarely comment. This recipe looks great and I definitely will try it but I am paranoid about salt. I think I probably actually hurt my recipes by not either adding too little or not adding any at all. I'll keep in mind what you noted with this recipe though. And I had never heard about fixing dishes with acidic source and sugar or salt depending on your mistake. It's a good tidbit for a newbie cook like me to have in my "grab bag of knowledge" as my mom says!

  2. It is great to hear from you Heather! I've also heard that you could add raw potatoes to your dish and they will absorb the salt. Thanks for your comment! Have a MERRY CHRISTMAS!


  3. I found this to be very salty as well! I didn't even think to google a remedy, but it sounds like it didn't really work for you anyway. :(


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