One of the great French classics. What was once considered a rustic, country dish, Coq au Vin has won culinary acclaim and remains a firm favourite amongst the classics. We’ve chosen to finish our Coq au Vin by roasting grapes over the chicken. The roast grapes add a lovely tart, sweetness to balance out the richness of the sauce as well as lending some of their sweet juices to the dish as they roast. A nod to the French wine regions where this dish hails.
A Bottle of Burgundy Red Wine, Beaujolais or Pinot Noir work well
4 Chicken Thighs, bone-in
4 Chicken Drumsticks
100g Lardons, cubed
1x Bunch of Red Grapes, on the vine
1 Large Onion, finely diced
1 Large Carrot, finely diced
150g Baby Carrots, halved
200g Chestnut Mushrooms, halved or quartered depending on size
4 Garlic Cloves, minced
250ml Chicken Stock
25g Plain Flour
2–3 Bay Leaves
1 Small Bunch of Thyme
Generous Pinch of Salt & Pepper
PREPPING THE CHICKEN
Many traditional recipes for Coq Au Vin call for the chicken to be marinated in the wine overnight. Nevertheless, we believe that marinating the meat overnight gives it a richer deeper flavour and arguably helps with tenderising the meat. It is not essential however, the difference between marinated and non-marinated meat is subtle. I would argue that the dish is better for it, but marinating your meat is certainly not a deal-breaker for a delicious dish. If choosing to marinate your chicken beforehand, please follow the below steps.
1. Firstly, start by seasoning the chicken thighs and drumsticks generously with salt and pepper and place into a bowl or zip-lock bag. Then, add a small bunch of thyme and a bashed garlic clove to the chicken and 100ml-200ml of the red wine, ensuring the chicken pieces are suitably covered.
TIP- Re-sealable zip-lock bags work extremely well for this and require less wine to cover the chicken as it can be more easily manipulated in the bags.
2. Leave the chicken to marinate in the fridge for up to 24hrs.
3. When ready to cook, remove the chicken from the marinade about 30mins before, reserving as much of the wine marinade as possible, and pat dry. You will be dredging the chicken in flour, so you want the meat to not be too damp.
THE COQ AU VIN
1. Preheat the oven to 160Cº.
2. Put a large, casserole pan over medium heat with a lug of olive oil. Add the flour into a large bowl and season generously with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour until evenly coated.
3. Place the chicken pieces to the pan and brown on all sides until golden and crisp. This should take about 8-10 minutes. You may need to work in batches to do this. Once browned, remove from the pan.
4. Lower the heat to the pan and add the lardons into the pan, Cook the lardons, gradually increasing the heat to a medium-high as the fat renders out. Once sizzling and the lardons are just starting to crisp, remove from the pan.
5. Add in the onion, and diced carrot into the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes until starting to colour. Then, add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with a splash of the red wine, scraping off any fond at the bottom of the pan, before returning the lardons and chicken to the pan and adding in the baby carrots.
6. Add the red wine to the pan (if you marinated your chicken, you can add the reserved marinade as well) and then top up with chicken stock until the chicken is almost entirely covered. You may need to add more or less chicken stock than specified depending on the size of your pan. Add the thyme and the bay leaves to the pan, cover with a lid and transfer to the oven with a lid and cook for 2 – 2 ½ hours until the meat is tender and falling off the bone.
7. Whilst the chicken is cooking, prepare the mushrooms. This can be done after an hour or even two. Place a large frying pan over high heat and add a splash of olive oil. Add the mushrooms, cut side down, to the pan and leave undisturbed for 2 minutes. This will help them take colour and develop flavour. Once the mushrooms are sizzling and the cut side has developed a golden brown colour, move them around the pan and cook for a further 2 minutes. Once cooked add to the casserole pan in the oven.
8. After 2 – 2½ hours, remove the casserole pan from the oven and remove the lid. The wine should have greatly reduced and formed a thickened sauce.
TIP – If the sauce looks too thin, you can thicken it by mixing a pinch of flour with some butter and stirring into the sauce.
9. Increase the oven temperature to 190Cº.
10. Divide and cut the grapes into small branches and drizzle with a little olive oil and a pinch of salt. Sit the grapes on top of the chicken and then return the pan to the oven without the lid and roast for 15-25 minutes until the grapes are just starting to split and blister and some juice has run into the sauce.
Serve the Coq au Vin with mashed potatoes and pickled silverskin onions. Whilst traditionally Coq au Vin is cooked and served with pearl onions, these baby onions can be troublesome to come by and a real pain to peel and prep en masse! So we cheated and serve ours with the very widely available, and very untraditional pickled silverskin onions. Not only are they easier to find, but we also think they work fantastically with this dish as the acidity really cuts through the rich sauce.