What follows is my latest incarnation of Coq au Vin (or Rooster Stewed in Wine). Coq au Vin is a simple and delicious chicken stew that can be as complicated as you like. It does take advance prep to marinate and (if you’re using a rooster) plenty of time to stew.
Except for the mushrooms, everything on this plate came from our homestead: rooster, onions, shallots, garlic, thyme, potatoes, goat milk (for the mashed potatoes) and chard. So good. So good.
Now I know most of you who are not raising your own chickens will not be able to obtain a rooster. I don’t think store bought chicken has enough “ooh la la” to handle Coq au Vin, but if you’ve never had rooster, then you won’t know what you’re missing. You just won’t need to stew it as long.
I came across a wonderful website detailing one man’s quest for an authentic Coq au Vin recipe. Unfortunately I couldn’t locate it again to post the link here. He wrote that “traditonally” a 2-3 year old rooster would be used. We almost never have a rooster that old. Usually we’re butchering at 5-8 months. However, I have to add that it’s easy to get caught up in the details of modern retellings of “peasant” type cuisine. My own peasant-style cooking dictates that whatever I have on hand is what goes in the recipe. That said, I love to include mushrooms in Coq au Vin if I have them or can coordinate my grocery shopping with butchering day. – Jen
Coq Au Vin
(This version is loosely adapted from looking at recipes from the Epicurious website and previous experience making Coq au Vin).
For the marinade:
1 rooster, cut into 6-8 pieces (I usually keep the wings for making stock.)
1 bottle of wine (This permutation used a ho-hum Blackstone Merlot, but people can get really fussy about the wine they use. Ho hum.)
4 cloves garlic, smashed
4 shallots, smashed (Optional. I don’t always have shallots on hand, but we had a great crop this year.)
3 bay leaves
For the stew:
6 slices bacon (I used up an end of salt pork from our home-butchered pig.)
3 medium onions, chopped into 1/2 to 1 inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, chopped
Handful shallots, chopped (Our shallots from the garden were smallish.)
1 pound mushrooms, sliced (I used cremini.)
Bacon grease or olive oil
6 stems fresh thyme
2-3 cups reduced or regular stock or more wine to cover (I use homemade unsalted condensed stock. Adjust salt accordingly if you’re using store bought stock.)
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
For those of you butchering your own rooster: After butchering, I separate the rooster into drumsticks, thighs, four breast pieces and put them in water in a glass tupperware dish and then keep covered in the fridge for at least two days. I put the back, neck and wings into the stock pot and cover generously with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer off and on for two days. (this is my lazy stock: simmer until I have to go out, then turn off and leave on the stove, then turn back on when I get back inside. At night I just put it outside to keep cool, then start er back up in the am. After a few days, I strain out the meat and bones, and then reduce by half.) For this particular gastronomic event, the rooster was soaking in water for four days before I got around to making the stew.
1 day ahead: Marinate the Rooster:
Soak the rooster pieces, garlic, bay leaves and shallots in wine to cover, overnight, up to two days. Usually I add thyme leaves here, but this particular time I prepped the dish late at night and didn’t feel like going out in the garden. Plus it was raining. Also, many recipes will call for chopped onions and carrots to go in the marinade. I like doing this too, but was too lazy this time.
To Make the Stew:
1. In a 3 quart minimum heavy pot (I use a Le Creuset, but you could use any stainless steel), cook bacon until browned. Remove to a plate. If there is not enough fat from the bacon, add bacon grease or olive oil, heat and brown the rooster pieces. Sometimes I just leave the bacon in. Remove to a plate when browned.
2. Add bacon grease or olive oil as needed in order to saute onions. Saute onions with sea salt till tender, add garlic and shallots and saute for a minute or so. Add thyme. If the pot gets dry I just throw in some wine. Add the mushrooms and saute for several minutes. Add rooster pieces, marinade and additional liquid to cover to the rooster pieces. I add wine if I have a bottle open. This time I used two cups of condensed home-made stock, salt free. Add freshly cracked black pepper to taste. I used probably just over a half-teaspoon.
3. Cover the pot, bring contents to a simmer, reduce heat and simmer, cover ajar, until the rooster is tender, 2-5 hours, depending on your stove and the rooster. I only had to simmer a few hours till he was falling off the bone. At this point, I take off the lid and simmer more vigorously to reduce liquid. This step will depend on how much gravy you want with your stew. We like a lot to pour over mashed potatoes, so I don’t reduce too much. I also don’t add flour at any stage, because I like the natural gravy that long stewing creates.
4. Serve with mashed potatoes (I keep them lumpy and simple -not too much butter or milk to compete with the rich gravy. Definitely no cheese!) and steam-sauteed greens. A favorite is kale or collards, but we served chard last night since we expected a frost, and the chickens have been getting out and having their way with it. Red wine accompanied the meal. And for dessert, of course, homemade apple pie with the last apples from our trees. Bon appetit!
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