Coq au Vin is a classic French dish that translates to “chicken cooked in wine”. It’s braised low and slow with mushrooms, pearl onions and bacon, and becomes falling-off-the-bone tender.
I’m sure you’re familiar with Julia Child, the chef that made this dish famous, and if not do yourself a favor and google her. She was classically French trained, and was basically the first person to teach cooking on camera way before Food Network was even thought of.
Her recipe is what I used (kinda loosely) as inspiration to make my version.
What Wine Should I Use?
According to Julia, the wine you choose to make this is as important as the chicken. She recommends a wine with more than one grape; in other words a blend such as a Chianti, Port or Bordeaux. Apparently, a wine made with just one grape tends to make the dish bitter, and bitter is bad.
I used a red blend of Pinot Noir, Malbec and Petite Sirah by Menage á Trois. I think it was around the $10-$12 range.
A good rule of thumb when it comes to cooking with wine is to never cook with a wine you wouldn’t choose to drink yourself.
This is a good cold weather dish, with hearty mushrooms and pearl onions, and you’ll have leftovers that taste even better the next day. It will fill your house with a delicious aroma of thyme, bay leaf, and bacon. Yes, bacon.
Is Coq au Vin a Complicated Recipe?
It’s long and time consuming, but not difficult. I wanted the experience of making the recipe the way it was written (almost 100%), so I used a whole chicken, but feel free to use chicken pieces instead if you want to make it easier. As a matter of fact, most versions call for chicken pieces. BUT, they must be bone-in and skin-on, lest you’re wasting your sweet, precious time.
I’ll go ahead and prepare you – your chicken (pieces) will turn purple-hued, but it’s to be expected.
Just like red wine stains your furniture, it’s gonna stain the shit out of your chicken.
There are, however, just a couple of little elements of Julia’s version that I decided to preclude – one being the part where she douses the bird with cognac and sets it on fire.
Don’t get me wrong; I wanted to do it! But #1) I didn’t have any cognac, and #2) Why waste good alcohol on a not-so-eternal-flame??
I do have to say that this was, hands down, the most tender chicken I’ve ever made. Because the wine is an acid, it’s a fabulous tenderizer.
I knew this, but I didn’t know the extent to which the tenderness could be. I’ve made many beer-butt chickens, but the chicken has never, ever been this damn tender.
For example, in the photos you see a perfectly intact chicken breast. I was able to literally lift it out of the bones with little to no effort. The drumsticks fell apart when I tried to pull them out of the pan.
The sauce, or “gravy” is made by adding blended flour and butter, or beurre manié, to the liquid in the pan and whisked until thick. This is then poured over the plated chicken, onions and mushrooms and it is divine.
I made and crumbled more bacon to top it with, and I would suggest you do the same because, well, it’s crispy bacon.
What To Serve With Coq au Vin
I made some wild rice and grilled some asparagus and carrots. Other sides you can serve with it –
- Mashed potatoes, and pour some of the sauce from the chicken over both
- Mashed cauliflower or broccoli, for a low carb option
- Couscous and green beans
- French bread (for sopping up all that sauce) and a green salad
- Roasted new potatoes and brussels sprouts – all in one pan
- Smashed sweet potatoes
Get Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and try more French classics.
Here’s your printable –