Warm and Cuddly Coq Au Vin






two large chicken breasts, skinned, halved, then cut again crosswise

four chicken thighs, skinned, fat trimmed

1-2 cups organic chicken stock (it’s worth paying a little more for organic, it’s all I buy now)

50g chopped pancetta or thick back bacon

1 tablespoon butter (or olive oil)

1 medium onion, chopped

a large carrot, chopped

1 rib of celery, rinsed and chopped

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced

2 tbsps flour

2 tbsps cognac

all but one glass of a bottle of red wine (I used an $12 dollar Beaujolais, which was light and flavourful)

2 teaspoons dried thyme

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon butter or olive oil

12 small onions, peeled

200g small white button mushrooms (about 24, cut in half it they’re too big)

mashed potatoes (see later recipe)



Dice the pancetta into very short strips, half finger width. Put them, together with the butter, into a thick-bottomed casserole – and let them cook over a moderate heat. Stir the pancetta until golden, remove and place in a bowl, leaving behind the fat in the pan.


Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and place them in the pancetta fat. When the underside is pale gold, turn. I did the chicken in two batches, removing ones that looked done and adding new ones. This goldening step is key, since, as Nigel says, “the skin should be honey coloured rather than brown – it is this colouring of the skin, rather than what wine or herbs you might add later, that is crucial to the flavour of the dish.”




This light gold colour was the ticket.

Did I nail the light gold colour or what?



Remove chicken out and place in a bowl of plate with the pancetta. While the chicken is turning gold in the pan, peel and roughly chop the onion and carrot, and celery. With the chicken out, add the onions and carrot to the pan and cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent and it has gone some way to dissolving some of the pan stickings. Add the garlic. 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, wine and tucking in the herbs. Spoon in ladles of the simmering chicken stock until the entire chicken is covered. Bring to the boil, then, just as it gets there, turn the heat down so that the sauce bubbles gently. Cover partially with a lid.

Melt the butter in a small pan, add the small peeled onions and then the mushrooms, halving or quartering them if they are too big. Let them cook until they are golden, then add them to the chicken with a seasoning of salt and pepper.




Mushrooms, pearl onions, so pretty!

Mushrooms, pearl onions, so pretty!



Check after 40 minutes to see if chicken is tender. It should be soft but not falling from its bones. I left mine in for an hour. Lift the chicken out and into a bowl.

Turn the heat up and the let the remaining sauce reduce a little, about four minutes.

Return the chicken to the pan and serve in a big shallow bowl. Garnish with fresh parsley and served with simple mashed potatoes.

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