Citizens, few recipes are more quintessentially old-school French than coq au vin! Coq au vin is a dish of chicken braised with wine, lardons (batons of salt pork or slab bacon), mushrooms, and optionally garlic (TFD definitely prefers with!).
A red Burgundy wine is typically used, though many regions of France make variants using local varietals, such as coq au vin jaune (Jura), coq au Riesling (Alsace), coq au pourpre or coq au violet (Beaujolais nouveau), coq au Champagne, etc.
Various legends trace coq au vin to ancient Gaul and Julius Caesar, but the recipe was not documented until the early 20th century; it is generally accepted that it existed as a rustic dish long before that. A somewhat similar recipe, poulet au vin blanc, appeared in an 1864 cookbook.
Julia Child featured coq au vin in her breakthrough 1961 cookbook “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”, and she frequently prepared it on the PBS cooking show “The French Chef”. This exposure helped to increase the visibility and popularity of the dish in the United States, and coq au vin was seen as one of Child’s signature dishes.
Although the word “coq” in French means “rooster” or “cock”, and tough birds with lots of connective tissue benefit from braising, most modern coq au vin recipes call for capon or generic “chicken”.
Standard recipes call for red wine (often Burgundy) for braising, lardons (salt pork or bacon), button mushrooms, onions, often garlic, and sometimes brandy. Recipes with vin jaune may specify morels instead of white mushrooms.
The preparation is similar in many respects to beef bourguignon. The chicken is seasoned, sometimes floured, seared in fat and slowly simmered in wine until tender. The usual seasonings are salt, pepper, thyme, parsley and bay leaf, usually in the form of a bouquet garni. The juices are sometimes thickened either with a roux or by adding blood at the end.
Citizens, I’ve based my version of the recipe on the seminal version from perhaps the world’s finest Chef – Alain Ducasse. I have dared to tinker with his recipe, adding garlic, a bit of tomato paste, tweaking the seasonings, added some thickener to the sauce and specifying fresh porcini mushrooms.
Most heretically, I prefer a bit of tartness to my coq au vin and have added a bit of balsamic vinegar and pickled cocktail onions in place of fresh. I prefer these changes, but by all means, omit them if you want to make the classic version! ☺
Battle on – The Generalissimo