We had friends come to stay. The night they arrived we ate Coq au Vin – perfect on a cold winters night after a long journey.

A little bit of history about Coq au Vin…..Legends trace coq au vin to ancient Gaul and Julius Ceasar, but the recipe was not documented until the early 20th century; it is generally accepted that it existed as a rustic dish long before that. A similar recipe, poulet au vin blanc, appeared in an 1864 cookbook.

2 kg chicken (I use legs as I find this meat doesn’t dry out)
1 bottle red wine
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme
250g bacon
60 g butter
250g button mushrooms
20 small onions (pickling onions work well)
1 tablespoon oil
30g plain flour
700 ml chicken stock
125 ml brandy
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 1/2 tablespoon softened butter
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Joint chicken – if using legs separate the thigh from the drumstick to make 2 pieces.
Place the chicken in a large bowl with the bay leaves, thyme and wine. Marinate over night.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat dry. Save the marinade to use later.

In a large frying pan melt 1/4 of the butter and fry the bacon until golden, remove from pan and place in a bowl. The melt another 1/4 of the butter and cook the onions until golden, remove and place in the bowl with the bacon. Melt another 1/4 of butter and cook the mushrooms until soft and coloured, season the mushrooms with salt and pepper while they are cooking. Remove and place in the bowl.

Add the oil and remaining butter to the pan and then cook the chicken until golden, you may need to do this in batches. Add the flour.

Remove the chicken and place in a large heavy based saucepan with the stock. Add the brandy to the frying pan to deglaze and then pour over the chicken.

Add the mushrooms, onions, bacon, marinade, tomato paste and wine and give it all a gentle stir.

Cook on a moderate heat for about 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and tender. If the sauce has not thickened enough make a beurre manie by mixing together the softened butter and flour. Remove the chicken and vegetables from the sauce and whisk in the beurre manie, bring the sauce to a boil and stir for two minutes. 

Return the chicken and vegetable to the sauce and add the parsley.

Serve with creamy mashed potatoes and green beans.


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