Every so often, Logan and I have a fancy date night in where we pick a country and cook a meal. We try to go all out – appetizer and dessert, drink something local, maybe watch a movie or listen to music from that place. It’s a way to do some travelling without the expense of a plane ticket!
So after the fun but full holiday season, we wanted a cozy date night in. We wanted to do something together but without crowd or lines or other human interaction. Enter: the fancy night in.
Our country of choice this time: France!
Once we pick the country, we choose our dishes. The main course was easy: I’d never had coq au vin, but it sounded delicious and quintessentially French. The best part is that it was easy! No complicated steps, no words I didn’t recognize.
It tasted DIVINE. My favorite part of our meal, I think! The chicken was moist and perfectly cooked, and cooking with wine is always a win but the flavor combo of wine with mushrooms was delicious.
Start by trimming up your chicken parts of excess fat. We took the skin off too, but that’s your call.
A highlight of the meal: realizing just how much the French love to use bacon. It featured in multiple parts of our meal, which we are OF COURSE a fan of.
Once the bacon has cooked up, add onions and chicken parts to the pan. Brown them, rotating occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Halfway through add the garlic cloves.
Once the chicken browned, drain the fat. Add chicken stock, wine, and herbs. Turn the heat down and let it bubble for about 20 minutes.
The chicken wasn’t submersed, so I rotated it halfway through to make sure everything cooked and soaked in that amazing flavor.
Once the chicken is done take it out of the pan and add the mushrooms. Cook on high until the liquid reduces into a sauce-like consistency. Add butter and once it’s combined, put the chicken back in.
Voila! Less than an hour to a gourmet French dish.
Taken from Mark Bittman’s The Best Recipes in the World, but with a couple tweaks of my own.
COQ AU VIN
- 1/4 lb thick bacon, diced small
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 chicken (3-4 lbs) or 3 lbs chicken parts, trimmed*
- 6 garlic cloves
- salt & pepper
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups Pinot Noir
- 2 bay leaves
- thyme (fresh or dried)**
- parsley (fresh or dried)
- 1/2 lb button mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp butter
- In the biggest skillet you have, cook the diced bacon on medium high heat. Stir occasionally, and when the fat renders and everything is crispy you’re done, about 10 minutes.
- Add onions and chicken, top down. Brown the chicken well – rotate so all sides get browned, another 10-12 minutes. Halfway through, add the garlic cloves (peeled) and salt & pepper.
- Drain grease, then add chicken stock, wine, and herbs. Turn heat down a little so it’s bubbling. Cover and cook 20 minutes or until the chicken is done.
- Remove the chicken from the pan, but keep warm. Remove bay leaves, herb sprigs, and garlic.
- Add mushrooms to the skillet and cook on high. Boil until the liquid has reduced by at least half and thickened to be more saucy. Lower the heat, add the butter, and put the chicken back in the pan. Coat the chicken with the sauce, then serve!
*We also cut the skin off, as you can see in the photos. The French may frown on this, but they turned out super flavorful anyway so I’m fine with that.
** A confession: we almost never use fresh herbs. Whenever we buy them, we use a couple sprigs for one recipe and then we either a) don’t eat anything that calls for them before they go bad, or b) forget they’re in there until they’ve gone bad. This time we happened to have fresh parsley, so I actually did that here, but we typically use dried. My rule of thumb is 1 tbsp fresh = 1 tsp dried. For “sprigs” I just sprinkle until it looks good.
Check back soon for other parts of our French feast!
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