Baby, it’s cold outside. And now that the festive holidays are behind us, the dreary weather just doesn’t seem as fun. Ward off the cabin fever and seasonal affective disorder with this classic, comforting — and boozy! — French braised chicken dish, coq au vin.
The goal is to slowly braise a whole chicken in a mixture of red wine and vegetables until the chicken is falling off the bone and your home smells like a French restaurant. Like many traditional recipes, you should use this as a guideline to give you some direction. Feel free to use whatever veggies you’d like and mix and match different herbs to turn your one-pot dinner into a boozy hot tub for a chicken.
When choosing wine for coq au vin, we like to buy a bottle in the $10 to $15 range. We believe it’s a waste of money to get an expensive bottle for this, but if you buy something too cheap you might end up with some off-flavors, like gasoline, as the wine reduces. Nobody likes gasoline in their chicken, so pick up a couple of moderately-priced bottles of red and serve the others with dinner. Get something you like to drink, but don’t like so much you’ll be sad pouring it into a Dutch oven with chicken and vegetables.
Coq Au Vin
1 whole chicken, quartered
Freshly ground black pepper
4 thick-cut slices bacon, cut into lardons
2 onions, quartered
10 mushrooms, halved
3 carrots, roughly chopped
4 celery stalks, roughly chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 bottle red wine
4 cups chicken stock (give or take, you need enough to just cover the chicken)
3 bay leaves
10 sprigs fresh thyme
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and set aside. Warm a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium heat then add the bacon. Cook until it’s crispy and the fat has been rendered, then remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon.
Sear the chicken in the bacon fat, a few minutes per side, until browned, then remove and set aside. Add the onions, mushrooms, carrots, celery and garlic to the pot and stir, then season with salt and pepper.
Add the wine and deglaze the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Add the chicken back to the pot. Add the chicken stock until the chicken is almost fully submerged. Add the bay leaves and the thyme, then bring everything to a simmer. Once simmering, cover and transfer to the oven to finish cooking.
Allow the chicken to cook in the oven for 90 minutes to 2 hours, until the meat is tender and falling off the bone. Salt and pepper to taste and serve over mashed potatoes or noodles. Garnish with the crispy bacon lardons and fresh herbs and enjoy with lots of red wine.