These swing of the weather can be really confusing for a cook. On the one hand, we're psyched for salads and iced coffee, but then there are days when it's pouring rain and you're freezing. Enter: coq au vin (chicken stewed in wine).
On those chilly days, I scour my pantry for enough of the ingredients to make a dish that passes for a classic coq au vin — chicken thighs, dried porcini mushrooms, a red onion, pancetta, and red wine. What I didn't have was time.
Is it the French name that makes people, myself included, think the dish is going to take all day? It won't. Although some time is usually taken up doing things like blanching the bacon, skimming the fat, and reducing the sauce, I pushed things a bit. In just over 30 minutes dinner was served. Much of that time is when the dish is simmering, so you can set the table, start a load of laundry, read a New Yorker article, or just stare into space.
Imagine: Coq au vin could be your new weeknight go-to meal.
It is possible to make this dish with any part of the chicken; I like the thighs because they are succulent and nestle into a pot nicely. If you have fresh mushrooms and want to make a super-classic version of the dish, add them to the sauce before reducing, just as the recipe is written for the dried mushrooms. Pearl onions are what you'll usually find in coq au vin, but they require a few extra steps, so for something equally tasty and not nearly as laborious, use any standard onion or a few shallots.
Coq au vin is usually served over wide egg noodles, but I like it with a few hunks of baguette and good butter. Roasted potatoes also make a good side dish.
One of the very first dinner party dishes I cooked was coq au vin — albeit it was for my family in my parent's house while I was in high school. It took the better part of the evening and skimping on my homework to make, but I'll never forgot how proud I felt pulling it out of the oven to serve.
This version takes a whole lot of the legwork out of the equation and transforms it into a weeknight dinner that couldn't be easier to pull off — I wish I had found this recipe in high school! Even though the technique is simplified, the results are nearly the same as the traditional version. It's a meal that's so comforting and feels ridiculously fast and fancy. While it can be served over egg noodles or mashed potatoes, I love letting it shine all on its own, with nothing but crusty bread on the side to soak up the sauce.
- Sheela, February 2018
Weeknight Coq au Vin
Serves 6 to 8
6 to 8
large bone-in chicken thighs (about 3 pounds total)
Freshly ground black pepper
dried wild mushrooms (about 1 ounce)
(1/2-inch) cubed pancetta or bacon (about 4 ounces)
large red or yellow onion, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
medium carrots, cut into bite-sized pieces
large cloves garlic, peeled and gently smashed
dry, fruity red wine, such as Zinfandel or Burgundy
low-sodium chicken broth
fresh thyme sprigs
6 to 8
fresh parsley sprigs, for garnish
Place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and pour enough boiling water over to just cover; set aside.
Place the pancetta or bacon in a 4- to 6-quart (large enough to accommodate the chicken) deep skillet or Dutch oven with a lid over medium heat, and cook until browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the onions and cook another minute, until onions begin to soften. Meanwhile, pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Push the pancetta and onions to one side of the pan. Turn the heat up to medium-high, add the chicken skin-side down in a single layer (in batches, if necessary), and cook until the fat is rendered and the skin is crisp and golden-brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Flip the chicken skin-side up and drain off any excess fat.
Add the carrots, garlic, tomato paste, wine, chicken broth, bay leaves, and thyme. Lower the heat so that the liquid just barely simmers. Cover and cook until chicken is cooked through and an instant-read thermometer reads 165°F, about 20 minutes.
Transfer the chicken pieces to a serving platter. Skim any excess fat off the top of the liquid. Remove the mushrooms from their soaking liquid and add them to the pot. Pour the mushroom liquid through a fine sieve or cheesecloth (to remove any grit) and into the pot. Turn the heat up to high and boil the mixture until the sauce is reduced by a third to a half, depending on how much time you have. Remove the bay leaves and thyme.
A few minutes before serving, put the chicken pieces back into the sauce to reheat. Serve each chicken thigh topped with a ladle of sauce and garnished with chopped parsley leaves or a whole parsley sprig.
Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.