We have been away to the country for the weekend; which means basic country cooking. I have wanted to try this recipe for some time. I know there are as may coq au vin recipes as there are English books on moving to live in France. You remember, they were once all the rage. Anyway, this is a dinner favourite that has endured fora reason – it is good. Chicken, wine, cognac, butter and onions. The meat falls from the bones and the sauce mopped up with mashed potatoes or parsnips.
- Joint a large chicken into 6 or 8 pieces, and keep the giblets and carcass.
- 150g pancetta (or some unsmoked back bacon)
- 30g butter
- 2 medium yellow onions (peeled and sliced)
- 2 large carrots (peeled and sliced)
- 2 celery sticks (sliced)
- 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 2 tbsps of cognac
- 1 bottle of red wine
- 5 sprigs of thyme
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon of plain flour
- 12 small onions peeled
- 200g small mushrooms
- If you are making your own stock follow this if not jump to 2 below: into a deep pot of water put the chicken carcass, giblets and any bones and flesh, cover with water, add a chopped onion, chopped carrot, chopped celery and peppercorns and bring the lot to the boil. Then turn it down, leaving to simmer until you need it. Drain and use the liquid.
- Cut your pancetta or bacon into short thick strips. Add the butter into a thick-bottomed casserole, throw in the bacon and cook over a moderate heat. Stir it occasionally making sure they don’t burn. When it has a nice golden colour get it into a bowl and leave behind the lovely fat in your pan.
- Now, season the chicken pieces put them in the hot fat in the tight casserole dish (not too large you don’t want the liquid to be big but strong) and fry so that the skin is honey coloured.
- Lift the chicken out and into the bowl with the pancetta. Add the onions, celery and carrot to the pan and cook them slowly, stirring from time to time, until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic as you go and don’t let it burn.
- Return the chicken and pancetta to the pan, stir in the flour and let everything cook for a minute or two before pouring in the cognac and wine then tucking in the herbs. Spoon in ladles of your chicken stock until the entire chicken is covered.
- Bring the lot to the boil, and just as it gets there turn the heat down so that the sauce bubbles gently. Cover partially with a lid.
- In a small pan melt your butter, add the small peeled onions and then the mushrooms. Let them cook until they are nicely golden, then add them to the chicken and season.
- Check the chicken after 40 minutes. It will probably take about an hour for it to be soft but not falling from its bones. Lift the chicken out and into a bowl.
- Turn the heat up under the sauce and let it bubble away until it has reduced a little. As it bubbles down it will become thicker and will become quite glossy.