Coq au Vin for the Comte St. Germain - Outlander S2E4
Welcome back! Season 2 is ticking right along. New characters are everywhere if you're a TV fan, while for the readers among us, it's like meeting old friends for the first time in person!
Or enemies? The Comte St. Germain is definitely a man not to be crossed. He's a wealthy wine merchant, with a good dose of self confidence...cocky actually.
So I made him a French classic - Coq au Vin. Chicken in wine.
See what I did there? Food from fiction can sometimes stretch the imagination, but it's always delicious.
Traditionally, coq au vin is made with an aged cock. :) Everything, including the bird's comb, was thrown into the pot, and cooked for a long time in wine, which helped tenderize the old, stringy meat.
Julia Childs' recipe from the 60s is what most of us in modern North America use as inspiration, and I am no different. I've made a couple of changes to the old dame's version, mostly to reduce the number of pans. Cleaning up the kitchen before the newest episode of Outlander is a drag, don't you think?
That said, this recipe is still a bit involved, but the flavour of this classic stewed dish is worth a little bit of work. As with most stews and braises, this tastes even better the next day. Refrigerate it in its pan, then warm it gently in the oven before serving.
You can certainly use bone-in chicken breasts in place of the legs, just shorten the cooking time slightly to avoid drying out the meat. Whichever you use, prepare everything before you start and it will come together smoothly, before you know it.
Comte St. Germain's Coq au Vin
A traditional dish, full of flavour. Perfect for that cocky wine merchant, the Comte St. Germain.
Serves 4 to 6
- 4 to 6 whole chicken legs, including thighs
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus additional
- 3 rashers thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into ¼” strips
- ¾ pound button mushrooms, halved or quartered if large
- 1 large onion, julienned
- 2 cloves garlic, grated or minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons brandy, preferably Cognac
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 cup red wine, Cabernet Sauvignon or similar
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Remove the skin from the chicken pieces and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pan over medium high. Add the bacon, and fry until crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Brown the chicken pieces in the remaining fat, about 4 minutes per side. Fry the chicken in two batches if necessary, to avoid overcrowding the pan. Remove to a plate.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the mushrooms to the pan, adding another tablespoon or two of olive oil if the pan is dry. Cook until just tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove to a separate plate. Add the onions to the pan and cook until softened and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and tomato paste. Stir for 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the brandy, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to medium low, arrange the chicken pieces on top of the onions and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
Remove the cover and sprinkle in the flour. Turn everything at least once and stir gently to incorporate the flour into the liquid in the pan. Add the bacon, mushrooms, stock, wine, thyme and bay leaves. Increase the heat and bring to a boil. Partially cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 30 more minutes.
Serve immediately, garnishing the dish with the chopped parsley.
Use a paper towel to grab the slippery chicken skin at the top of the thigh and peel it down to the bottom of the leg. A quick yank at the end should easily remove the skin in one piece.