Today was just that kind of day with frigid temperatures and grey skies that begged for pops of color. And what better place to go than the conservatory winter flower show. On the right of this blog I have posted other pictures. This photo below took patience and 10 shots before I could get just the right one without people in it. Lucky there was a bench for my husband to rest on while I waited for the crowd to clear.
Chicken, wine and bacon are the classic combo for the comfort food, coq au vin. But my, oh my, the more recipes and reviews I read the more confused I became. How can one simple French dish recipe have so many divided opinions on techniques, cookware and ingredients to use? I looked at a variety of recipes ranging from Julia Child to food network stars to Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) and their reviews. The challenges I faced were:
Deciding how much wine to use which ranged in recipes from 3/4 of the bottle all the way to Alton Brown's recipe with two bottles of wine!!! even Julia did not use that much
Avoiding the chicken turning purple from the wine
Deciding which to use a Dutch Oven or a Crock Pot
Deciding to use white or dark meat or both
Deciding which would be better bacon or pancetta
My guests were coming at 5:00 and the clock was ticking, It was 10:30 AM. I needed to move forward quickly. At this point (and this is the honest truth) my husband comes in the kitchen waving the newspaper. He was quite excited telling me "help is on the way." It seems in the newspaper that very day in the variety section they were featuring coq au vin and all the "how tos". Lucky me, but it was one more recipe to think about.
The following recipe has decidedly become mine with bits and pieces from many other ones. The first decision I made and a good one was listening to my sister. She insisted I needed to use her Dutch Oven. The second decision was to use only 3/4 bottle of wine (choose a medium priced Pinot Noir since I read cheap wine had too many tannins in it and less is more ) and I used pancetta instead of bacon so less fat. Lastly using both dark and white meat gave the dish more flavor.
All in all once I got the kinks out I would definitely make this dish again. Plus the fact I know what I am doing :)
Coq Au Vin
Cook's notes: It is time consuming but well worth effort that each piece of chicken needs to be floured and fried 8 minutes per side to sear it which avoids the color purple when wine is added. Blanch the pancetta which means cover it with cold water bring to a boil, and then simmer 5 minutes drain on a paper towel. This method removes the saltiness from the pancetta. Use both boneless chicken thighs and breasts for maximum flavor.
This recipe serves 12-14
- 2 LBS. white meat boneless(breasts) cut into large chunks
- 2 LBS. chicken thighs boneless cut into large chunks
- 1 bottle of medium priced Pinot Noir or Burgundy (medium priced as being $12.00-$15.00 range)
- 3 bay leaves
- 6 pieces of pancetta
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1-1/2 cups chopped sweet onions (traditional recipe calls for pearl onions but time consuming to remove skins)
- 1 LB. small baby red potatoes skinned and cut into thirds
- 1 large box of mushrooms, cleaned, stems off and halved
- 2 tsp. prepared garlic or 3 minced garlic cloves
- 3 TB. tomato paste
- 2-3 cups baby carrots sliced diagonally
- 2-1/2 cups chicken broth and 2-1/2 cups chicken stock
- 2 tsp. herbes de Provence
- 2 tsp. thyme
- 1/2 tsp, marjoram
- Flour and salt each piece of chicken and set aside on a cookie sheet near fry pan
- In large fry pan saute pancetta, onions, mushrooms and garlic
- With a slotted spoon remove and set aside on a paper towel
- Using the grease from pancetta add chicken several pieces at a time and fry 8 minutes on a side
- May be necessary to add a little butterto fry pan so chicken does not stick
- Place cooked pieces back on cookie sheet and finish searing rest of meat
- Place meat in Dutch Oven pan, pancetta mixture, carrots, potatoes
- Sprinkle spices and bay leaves over chicken mixture
- In fry pan add chicken stock and chicken broth and whisk in flour till blended
- Whisk in tomato paste and 3/4 bottle of red wine
- Cook on low heat till mixture starts to thicken
- Pour wine mixture over chicken and cover
- Cook at 250 for 4 hours every hour remove cover and stir mixture
- At end of cooking time make sure potatoes and carrots are tender
- Keep covered after removing from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving
- Make sure bay leaves are removed
Mixed Greens Salad with Fennel and Pomegranate
Fennel in salads seems to becoming quite popular in the US. It originally came from the Mediterranean regions. It has s a unique taste like a hint of licorice. One bulb goes a long way. So use pieces sparingly.
Here is where my sister came to the rescue again by using her mandoline to get paper thin slices. This is quite the culinary tool!
And guess what ? She thinks removing pomegranate seeds are no problem. So I was off the hook for that detail. I added blood orange segments cut in half and walnut pieces. I bought this prepared bottle dressing as a time saver for making a balsamic dressing.
- equal parts of baby spinach leaves and romaine
- slices of fennel
- orange segments