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Coq au Vin
For years I had resisted attempting to make this classic French recipe at home. Perhaps this was due to all the lousy variations I had years ago when it was all the rage. It rarely did anything for me and I could never get excited thinking about spending the time to do it myself. Recently I had Coq au Vin at the home of a friend and it was wonderful so I decided to give it a go. I used the recipe from the January, 1999 Cook's Illustrated, modified only slightly, and I am thrilled with the results.
A couple of notes are in order. Firstly you may substitute chicken breasts for the legs if you wish but the dark meat is less likely to dry out and stays much more moist. Secondly, as for the wine I must admit I know very little. I picked out an inexpensive Pinot Noir -- $6 to $7 range -- and it worked just fine. If you're a connoisseur by all means go for the more expensive stuff.
12 steps to prepare Coq au Vin (first four steps may be done in advance):
Generously sprinkle chicken pieces with salt and ground black pepper; set aside.
Bring wine and broth to boil in large, heavy saucepan; reduce heat to medium-high and simmer until reduced to about 4 cups, about 20 minutes.
While the wine and broth are reducing fry bacon in deep, heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium heat until fat has rendered and bacon is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove bacon with slotted spoon to paper towel–lined plate to drain; set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon butter with rendered bacon fat; add carrot, onion, shallots, and garlic and sauté until lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Using slotted spoon drain as much fat as possible and transfer vegetables to pan with reduced wine mixture (off heat) and discard all but 1 tablespoon fat from sauté pan.
Return sauté pan to burner over medium-high heat and add another 1 tablespoon butter. When butter is melted, add chicken (in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding) and cook until well browned all over, turning once or twice during cooking, 12 to 16 minutes. Remove chicken to a plate; set aside.
Pour off all fat from sauté pan; return to heat and add wine-vegetable mixture. Bring to boil, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan with wooden spoon.
Add browned chicken, bouquet garni, and tomato paste to boiling wine mixture; return to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer gently, partially covered. Turn chicken once during cooking, until tender and infused with wine flavor, 45 to 60 minutes.
While chicken and sauce are cooking, heat another 2 tablespoons butter in medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add pearl onions and cook, stirring occasionally and reducing heat if butter starts to brown too fast, until lightly browned and almost cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes.
Add mushrooms, season with salt, cover, increase heat to medium, and cook until mushrooms release their liquid, about 5 minutes.
Remove cover, increase heat to high, and boil until liquid evaporates and onions and mushrooms are golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes more. Transfer onions and mushrooms to plate with bacon; set aside.
When the chicken is cooked, transfer to serving bowl or platter; cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
Strain sauce through fine mesh sieve set over large measuring cup, pressing on solids with wooden spoon to release as much liquid as possible; sauce should measure 2 to 3 cups.
Counting 1 tablespoon each of butter and flour for each cup of sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan and whisk in flour to make a light roux.
Bring sauce to simmer and whisk in roux a spoonful at a time until smooth and the sauce is thickened
Add reserved chicken, bacon, onions and mushrooms; adjust seasoning with salt and ground black pepper to taste, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer very gently to warm through and blend flavors, about 5 minutes.
Check seasoning one more time and adjust with additional salt and ground black pepper if necessary; add parsley. Transfer chicken to serving platter; pour sauce over chicken.
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