Modern Coq au Vin

Published November 1, 2006. From Cook's Illustrated.

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Why this recipe works:

To return this chicken stew recipe to its roots and to simplify it so we could serve it after only 90 minutes, we chose boneless thighs that became fall-apart tender in 25 minutes. To compensate for the flavor that was lost because of the shortened cooking time, we added chicken broth to wine… read more

To return this chicken stew recipe to its roots and to simplify it so we could serve it after only 90 minutes, we chose boneless thighs that became fall-apart tender in 25 minutes. To compensate for the flavor that was lost because of the shortened cooking time, we added chicken broth to wine and reduced this liquid before adding it to the stew. While the wine-broth mixture was simmering, we browned the meat and vegetables (onions and mushrooms) together, adding minced garlic, tomato paste, and crisped bacon to give our coq au vin recipe full flavor.

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Serves 4 to 6

A medium-bodied, fruity red wine such as Pinot Noir or Rhône Valley Grenache is best for this recipe. Avoid bold, heavily oaked red wine varietals like Cabernet and light-bodied wines like Beaujolais. To use fresh pearl onions, trim the root and stem end of each onion and discard. Boil for 1 minute, shock in ice water, then peel a thin strip from root to stem. Remove any remaining outer skin (it's like peeling off a jacket). If neither frozen nor fresh pearl onions are available, substitute one large onion cut into 1/2-inch pieces. (Do not use jarred pearl onions, which will turn mushy and disintegrate into the sauce.) Serve the stew with egg noodles or mashed potatoes.

Ingredients

  • 1 bottle fruity, smooth, medium-bodied red wine (see note above)
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 10 sprigs fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 ounces bacon, preferably thick-cut, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat and cut in half crosswise
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 24 frozen pearl onions, thawed, drained, and patted dry (about 1 cup) (see note above)
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, wiped clean, stems trimmed, halved if small and quartered if large
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Instructions

  1. 1. Bring all but 1 tablespoon wine (reserve for later use), broth, parsley sprigs, thyme, and bay to simmer in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until reduced to 3 cups, about 25 minutes. Discard herbs.

    2. Meanwhile, cook bacon in large Dutch oven over medium heat until browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper-towel-lined plate. Reserve 2 tablespoons fat in small bowl; discard remaining fat.

    3. Lightly season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon reserved bacon fat in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add half of chicken in single layer and cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to plate and repeat with remaining chicken and 1 tablespoon bacon fat.

    4. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in now-empty Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When foaming subsides, add pearl onions and mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 5 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomato paste and flour; cook, stirring frequently, until well combined, about 1 minute.

    5. Add reduced wine mixture, scraping bottom of pot with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits; add 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Return chicken, any accumulated juices, and reserved bacon to pot; increase heat to high and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot, and simmer until chicken is tender, about 25 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking time.

    6. Using slotted spoon, transfer chicken to large bowl; tent with foil to keep warm. Increase heat to medium-high and simmer sauce until thick and glossy and measures 3 cups, about 5 minutes. Off heat, stir in remaining 2 tablespoons butter and reserved 1 tablespoon wine. Season to taste with salt. Return chicken to pot and top with minced parsley. Serve immediately.

Recipe Testing

How We Did It: Coq au Vin in 90 Minutes

Butchering, chopping, browning, straining, simmering, thickening...most coq au vin recipes require almost three hours from start to finish. We came up with some shortcuts to keep this simple stew under control.

Two Pots: We reduced the wine, stock, and herbs in a separate saucepan while browning the meat with the vegetables.

No Bones: Opting for boneless thighs rather than bone-in legs shaved more than 30 minutes from the cooking time.

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