JULIA’S COQ AU VIN (French chicken with red wine, for four)
a 3 to 4 ounce chunk of lean bacon
2 tablespoons butter
one 3 pound chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
½ teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
1/8 teaspoon pepper, plus more as needed
¼ cup cognac
3 cups young, full bodied red wine such as Burgundy, Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone or Chianti
1 to 2 cups brown chicken stock, brown stock or canned beef bouillon
½ tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
¼ teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
12 to 24 brown-braised onions (recipe follows)
½ pound sautéed mushrooms (recipe follows)
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons softened butter
sprigs of fresh parsley
- Remove the rind and cut the bacon into lardons (rectangles ¼ inch across and 1 inch long). Simmer for 10 minutes in 2 quarts of water. Rinse in cold water and dry.
- Saute the bacon slowly in hot butter until it is very lightly browned. Remove to a side dish.
- Dry the chicken thoroughly. Brown it in hot fat in the casserole, about 10 minutes. Season the chicken and return the bacon to the casserole with the chicken. Cover and cook slowly for 10 minutes, turning the chicken once.
- Uncover, and pour in the cognac. Averting your face, ignite the cognac with a lighted match. Shake the casserole back and forth for several seconds until the flames subside.
- Pour the wine into the casserole. Add just enough stock or bouillon to cover the chicken. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic and herbs. Bring to the simmer. Cover and simmer very slowly for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and its juices run a clear yellow when the meat is pricked with a fork (if you add more chicken pieces, or if your chicken pieces are large, increase braising time to 30, or more, minutes). Remove the chicken to a side dish.
- While the chicken is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms (recipes follow).
- Simmer the chicken cooking liquid in the casserole for a minute or two, skimming off fat. Then raise heat and boil rapidly, reducing the liquid to about 2-1/4 cups. Correct seasoning. Remove from heat, and discard bay leaf.
- Blend the butter and flour together into a smooth paste (beurre manie). Beat the paste into the hot liquid with a wire whip. Bring to the simmer, stirring, and simmer for a minute or two. The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.
- Arrange the chicken in the casserole, place the mushrooms and onions around it, and baste with the sauce. If the dish is not to be served immediately, film the top of the sauce with stock or dot with small pieces of butter. Set aside uncovered. It can now wait indefinitely.
- Shortly before serving, bring to the simmer, basting the chicken with the sauce. Cover and simmer slowly for about 10 minutes, until the chicken is hot through. Serve from the casserole or arrange on a hot platter. Decorate with the parsley.
BROWN BRAISED ONIONS
18 to 24 peeled white onions about 1 inch in diameter
1-1/2 tablespoons butter
1-1/2 tablespoons oil
½ cup brown stock, canned beef bouillon, dry white wine, red wine or water
salt and pepper to taste
a medium herb bouquet (4 parsley sprigs, ½ bay leaf and ¼ teaspoon thyme tied in cheesecloth)
- When the butter and oil are bubbling in a 9 to 10 inch enameled skillet, add the onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling the onions about so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect to brown them uniformly.
- Then either braise them as follows: Pour in the liquid, season to taste and add the herb bouquet. Cover and simmer until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove the herb bouquet.
- Or bake them as follows: Transfer the onions and their sautéing fat to a shallow baking dish or casserole just large enough to hold them in one layer. Set uncovered in the upper third of a preheated 350* oven for 40 to 50 minutes, turning them over once or twice. They should be very tender, retain their shape, and be a nice golden brown. Remove the herb bouquet.
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon oil
½ pound fresh mushrooms, washed, well dried, left whole if small, sliced or quartered if large
1 to 2 tablespoons minced shallots or green onions (optional)
salt and pepper
- Place a 10 inch enameled skillet over high heat with the butter and oil. As soon as you see that the butter foam has begun to subside, indicating that it is hot enough, add the mushrooms. Toss and shake the pan for 4 to 5 minutes. During their sauté the mushrooms will at first absorb the fat. In 2 or 3 minutes the fat will reappear on their surface, and the mushrooms will begin to brown. As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from heat.
- Toss the shallots or green onions with the mushrooms. Sauté over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Sauteed mushrooms may be cooked in advance, set aside, then reheated when needed. Season to taste just before serving.
adapted from Julia Child, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I