Evocative of slow winter days spent at home with Julia Child on the television, coq au vin is the season’s quintessential dish—hearty, warming and sure to fill the house with heavenly aromas. In her new cookbook, Wine Lover’s Kitchen, longtime food writer and wine columnist Fiona Beckett recommends going traditional with a French wine—ideally something dry and fruit forward like a Côtes du Rhône-Villages, a Gigondas or Lirac. And take a cue from Julia: Remember to pour yourself a glass while cooking.
Coq au Vin
6-7 shallots, halved or quartered if large
2-3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
6 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts
3 Tbsp. olive oil
4½ oz. chopped bacon or pancetta cubes
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3½ Tbsp. brandy
3 sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
1 (750 ml.) bottle dry, fruity red wine
3½ cups small button mushrooms
1 Tbsp. butter, softened (optional)
3 Tbsp. freshly chopped flat leaf parsley
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put 2 tablespoons of flour in a shallow dish and season it with salt and pepper. Dip the chicken breasts in the flour and coat both sides. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large, lidded frying pan and add the chicken breasts, frying for 2–3 minutes on each side until lightly browned.
Remove the chicken from the pan, discard the oil and wipe out the pan. Return the pan to the heat and pour in the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the chopped bacon or pancetta cubes and the shallots and fry until lightly browned. Stir in the garlic, then return the chicken to the pan. Put the brandy in a small saucepan and heat it until almost boiling. Set it alight with a long cook’s match or taper and carefully pour it over the chicken. Let the flames die down, then add the thyme and bay leaf and pour in enough wine to just cover the chicken. Bring back to a simmering point, then reduce the heat, half cover the pan and simmer very gently for 45 minutes.
Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook for another 10–15 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan, as well as the shallots, bacon and mushrooms with a slotted spoon, and set aside separately to keep warm. Increase the heat under the pan and let the sauce simmer until it has reduced by half. If the sauce needs thickening, mix the soft tablespoon of butter with 1 tablespoon of flour to make a smooth paste, then add it gradually, whisking well after each addition until the sauce is smooth and glossy.
Return the shallots, bacon and mushrooms to the pan and salt and pepper the sauce to taste. Cut each chicken breast into four slices and arrange them on warm serving plates. Spoon a generous amount of sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with parsley. Serve with creamy mashed potatoes or tagliatelle pasta.
Reprinted with permission from Wine Lover’s Kitchen: Delicious Recipes for Cooking with Wine, copyright 2017 by Fiona Beckett. Published by Ryland Peters & Small.
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