Listen, I’m not going to lie to you here. This recipe was involved. Not terribly difficult, but involved. But, as my mom’s handwriting notes, my dad ‘liked very much’, so who was I to argue? Even though my kitchen was covered in dirty bowls and slotted spoons and bits of mushroom and onion, it was TOTALLY worth it. The chicken was very good and the mushroom-onion-wine sauce was to die for amazing. Make sure you serve this with some crusty bread because there was some soppin’ up to be had.
I got it in my head that I was going to cut up my own chicken. I don’t know if the idea was born out of the need for know-how or if whole fryers were on sale and then the need ended up being born out of necessity, but either way, I conquered the chicken! It really wasn’t that bad. I went online to the Eating Well website and followed instructions on the 1-2-3’s of cutting up a whole chicken. When I was done I felt like celebrating with a glass of wine, but then remembered I was saving the wine for the chicken sauce. So, there was that. Oh! and my whole chicken weighed a little over 5 pounds, but by the time I was done carving it up, I expect if weighed closer to the ‘2 1/2 pounds’ that the recipe called for. I can’t imagine what a whole 2 1/2 pound chicken would look like after it was carved….a quail?
The recipe calls for cooking the chicken slowly with the skin on so as to brown it in its own fats, which I can see as a very tasty suggestion, but I took the skin off my chicken and the slow cook method was just going nowhere when it came to browning up the bird. I added a smidge of butter and olive oil and turned up the heat to get some of the browning going. This ended up being quite lip-smackin’, so I say do what you will when it comes to the skin vs skinless debate. Here is the chicken all cut up in the casserole dish and covered with the onion-wine sauce.
My next battle was the pearl onions. When I first dumped them out of their small netted pouch I thought I was going to need the smallest knife in the world to cut and peel them, but I was delighted to read that if you just toss them into boiling water for 3 minutes, dunk them in cold water, cut off the whiskers growing from the end, then their outer skins just slide right off…. and they totally did! I tossed the mushrooms in with them for a minute to soak up all the dripping goodness and then scooped them out as the onions continued to brown for 15 minutes. I wondered what all this TLC was going to amount to with the onions and trust me, when I got to the eating part, the onions almost outshone everything else on that plate. (Except for the brussel sprout side dish my friend brought over, because that had bacon in and NOTHING outshines bacon. Am I right? I thought so.)
See what I mean? Caramelized oniony goodness.
The last step of the recipe would have been a nail biter if I hadn’t accidentally fallen into making all the right decisions. I really wanted to make sure that I didn’t burn the ‘rich brown residue’. (gross, right? I mean, who uses the word ‘residue’ in a recipe? Which reminds me, I have to clean the shower today.) First thing I did was take the chicken out of the oven and turn the oven off, keeping it as a hot box to make sure my dish stayed warm. I scooped up the chicken and bits of onion (with a slotted spoon) into my serving dish, dumped the mushrooms and pearl onions on top and threw it in my oven while I made the sauce. I poured the leftover juices from the chicken casserole dish into the pan on the stove (that had just be vacated by the onions) and made a rue with gluten-free flour, blending it into the onion mixture. In less than a minute, I had a bubbly, rich, delicious wine sauce to pour over my chicken dish. All of a sudden, I had a fancy meal prepared!
Yes, there were a lot of dishes to clean and it almost got away from me a couple of times there, but it was completely worth the sweat and tears. Plus, I felt FANCY while eating it…..and I got to share it with a friend, and sharing food always makes it taste better. Didn’t you know?
Coq Au Vin (chicken with wine)
- 1 broiler-fryer chicken (2 1/2 pounds), cut up
- 1 large onion, chopped (1 c.)
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 3/4 c. water
- 1/2 c. dry red wine
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. leaf tarragon, crumbled
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 pound small white onions, peeled
- 2 envelopes instant beef broth or 2 tsp. granulated beef bouillon
- 1 pound fresh mushrooms
- 2 tbsp. flour
- Place chicken pieces, skin side down, in a large skillet over very low heat. (Do no add fat.) Cook slowly until skin side is a rich brown, about 10 minutes; turn and brown other side.
- Remove chicken from skillet with tongs and place in an 8-cup casserole. Remove 2 tablespoons of the chicken drippings from skillet.
- Saute chopped onion and garlic slowly, until soft, in remaining drippings in skillet; stir in 1 cup of the water, red wine, salt, tarragon, and bay leaf. Heat to boiling. Pour over chicken in casserole; cover.
- Bake in a moderate over (350 degrees) for 30 minutes, or until the chicken is tender.
- While chicken bakes, return reserved chicken drippings to skillet; brown peeled onions slowly. Leave 6 of the mushrooms whole, for garnish; halve remainder; add all to skillet. Toss to coat with pan drippings.
- Add instant beef broth and 1/2 cup boiling water to skillet; cover. Simmer 5 minutes. Remove mushrooms with a slotted spoon and reserve. Continue cooking onions, 15 minutes, or until tender and broth has evaporated, leaving a rich brown residue. (Watch carefully lest they scorch.)
- Place cooked chicken, mushrooms, and onions in a heated serving dish. Remove bay leaf. Pour liquid from casserole into skillet. Heat to boiling. Blend flour with 1/4 cup cold water to make a smooth paste. Stir flour mixture into boiling liquid in skillet. Continue cooking and stirring until mixture thickens and bubbles 1 minute. Pour over chicken and vegetables. Garnish with whole mushrooms and chopped parsley, if you wish.