Ruhlman's Weekday Coq Au Vin

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Haven't you always wanted to try to make those fancy sounding dishes they serve in a French restaurant? And I'm not talking about the gastonomically cutting-edge dishes, just the ones they serve in cozy corner bistros. Nah? Okay, I always did! And Coq au Vin was on top of the list.

Chicken thighs, pearl onions, carrots and mushrooms. Really? I can do this! Plus I've got a nice bottle from which I can spare two cups down this pot of 'poulet extravaganza' while I sip the rest as this cooks. Works nicely for both of us, the poulet and I.

Borrowed this book from the library ... Ruhlman's Twenty ... and was glad I did. Probably learnt more about techniques this month compared to the last 3 years. Learnt how to brine, for one, and made great pork chops from that lesson. But I digress...

So ... chicken thighs, carrots, mushrooms and onions. I had them all and now was the time to learn a new thing or two. I have to cook for 7, and I had 15 thighs, yes the math doesn't add up, that is just how many there were in the pack. And so I tripled the recipe. Baked the chicken separately in a pyrex dish, then plonked it in the gravy and later returned to it again because the dutch oven wouldn't hold all that good stuff. Seriously, don't they make 10qt Dutch ovens?

This recipe feeds 4, but would't you want leftovers? Double it, I say! They are even better the next day :)

8 chicken legs (or 4 whole thighs)
Olive oil
Salt, pepper
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp paprika

12 bacon slices, sliced again by 1/2 inches
1 large onions, finely diced
6 cloves garlic, smashed
Kosher salt
1/4 cup flour
3 carrots, cut into 4 on the diagonal
6 shallots, peeled, left whole
6 bay leaves
1/2 pound button mushrooms
2 cups red wine
4 tbsp honey
Freshly ground pepper
Chopped fresh parsley, grated lemon zest

1. Heat oven to 375F.
2. Place chicken legs on a large baking sheet or Pyrex dish, drizzle olive oil on top, sprinkle salt, pepper, granulated garlic and paprika and massage it into the chicken.
3. Roast for 30 minutes. Remove from oven; reduce oven temperature to 325F.

4. Meanwhile, put the bacon, onion and garlic in a large ovenproof skillet or Dutch oven and let it sweat for 5 minutes.
5. Add 1 tbsp of salt and enough water just to cover ingredients. Cook over high heat until the water has cooked off, 10 minutes.
6. Reduce the heat to medium-low; cook, stirring, until the onion has begun to caramelize, another 10 minutes.
7. Sprinkle with the flour, then stir until the lumps have disappeared.
8. Add a bit of water if the roux becomes difficult to stir.

9. Nestle the chicken into the onion mixture in one layer.
10. Tuck the carrot, shallots and bay leaves into the pan; then add the mushrooms.
11. Add the wine and honey; season with pepper.
12. Pour enough water to reach three-fourths the way up the chicken.
13. Heat to a simmer over high heat.

Now normally you would just place the dutch oven into the hot oven right now. However since I had filled it to the brim, after infusing those wonderful flavors into the chicken, I lifted the chicken pieces out of the Dutch oven and placed them into the Pyrex baking dish again with a bit of the gravy.

14. Slide (both the baking dish and) the Dutch oven, uncovered, into the oven.
15. Cook about 30 to 40 minutes; turn chicken pieces skin-side up.
16. Stir ingredients in Dutch oven to make sure they cook evenly.

17. To get crispy skin, if using skin, that is, broil chicken about 1-2 minutes. Maybe with the oven door ajar as you monitor it. Don't want to set off the smoke alarm, like I did!

18. Remove the bay leaves. (Twenty also asks you to remove the carrots, but I thought it was wasteful, so I kept them ... they were delicious!)
19. Serve chicken in shallow bowls garnished with parsley and lemon zest.

Let's not forget that wine! This one was savoured with many a complements to the chef. Yaay! Definitely a keeper.

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