Remember those Coquilles St. Jacques? And how good they were? And how Julia Child never fails you?
Still true. This time it was her recipe for Coq au Vin, the classic French braised chicken dish. About a month ago Rebecca and I had the pleasure of spending a week at her family’s cottage on Higgins Lake in Michigan. Many parts of the cottage have remained unchanged for decades (centuries?), including a vintage wood oven/electric stove and an assortment of very well seasoned cast iron and copper cookware. In searching for a knockout Sunday dinner recipe, no further did I have to look than Mastering the Art of French Cooking (of course).
Like a lot of recipes in the book, Coq au Vin takes a while to prepare correctly, but it is so, SO worth it. From dismantling the whole chicken yourself to igniting the cognac to simmering onions until long after your mouth starts watering, patience is key. Unless you have a lot of time available on a weeknight, this one is best saved for the weekend.
Coq au Vin can be made with a variety of wines, including riesling, beaujolais nouveau, and champagne. I’m sure they all taste delicious, but using a robust red yields a rich and complex gravy that is irresistible (see photo at end of post). The dish itself is so delicious that it is actually difficult to eat it slowly enough to enjoy all the amazing flavors.
Since following Julia’s directions to the letter has given me such success in the past, I changed very little in this recipe. She suggests pairing the dish with parsley potatoes (boiled), while I chose mashed. She suggests paring the dish with a Burgundy or Beaujolais, while I chose a Chianti. That’s it. Otherwise, I did what she told me to do. She suggests – if you MUST have a green vegetable – buttered green peas; I chose buttered green peas.
This pretty much says it all: scraped clean. Thanks Jules.