01 April 2011

Chicken cooked in red wine

I won't call this coq au vin because it wasn't made with a coq but with a poulet. It's the same thing, though, as far as other ingredients and the cooking methods go. I've seen recipes for so-called coq au vin that are made with a rooster, a capon, or just a young chicken.

No matter how many times you make it, it's just as good. One thing I like to do when I make a chicken this way is to marinate it overnight in red wine with aromatics: onion, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme, bay leaf, pepper, salt, and allspice berries. Use at least two-thirds of a bottle of good red wine (two cups) or — why not? — the whole bottle. Add some water to the marinade if necessary to cover all the ingredients.

Chicken fricasséed in red wine with aromatic
vegetables, lardons, and mushrooms

When you lift the chicken pieces out of the marinade, they have taken on a purple color. You can use a whole chicken, cut up, or you can use the chicken pieces and parts that you prefer. Legs and thighs are really good, for example, because they don't get as dry as the white meat might.

Chicken pieces after marinating in red wine overnight...

After you've taken the chicken pieces out of the red-wine marinade, dry them off with paper towels before you sauté them in vegetable oil or butter to stiffen the flesh and give the skin a light coloring. You only need to sauté the chicken for, say, five minutes. Don't crowd the pan. I used a whole chicken cut up into 10 pieces — 2 drumsticks, 2 thighs, 2 wings, and the breast cut into 4 pieces — and I sautéed all that in two batches.

...and after a light sauté in a skillet

After sautéing the chicken pieces, strain the aromatic ingredients out of the red wine — keep the wine, of course — and sauté them lightly in the same pan you used for the chicken. And don't forget to add some smoked bacon or ham, cut into chunks. Those chunks of smoked pork are called lardons in French, and they are an ingredient in many stews and sautéed dishes. Here in France, you can buy them ready to cook. In the U.S., you will have to buy some slab bacon, or at least thick-sliced bacon, or a thick slice of smoked ham, and cut the lardons out of it yourself.

Sauté the vegetables and lardons in the same pan.

When the vegetables are starting to color lightly and the lardons are at least partially cooked, add a couple of tablespoons of flour to the pan. Stir that in well and let it cook for another minute or two. Now pour in the red wine that everything marinated in. Stir it around and the flour will thicken the liquid just slightly.

Lardons of smoked bacon

Put the pieces of chicken in a baking dish. Pour the thickened red wine, containing all the vegetables, herbs, and spices, along with the smoked pork, over all. Stir it around just a little to make sure everything is evenly distributed in the dish.

If it's a dish you can put on a burner, heat it up to the boiling point before setting it in the oven, covered. Otherwise, set the dish in a very hot oven and after five minutes turn the oven down to about 325ºF/160ºC and let it cook for at least an hour. I like to leave it in the oven for two hours or more at that low temperature, watching it and adding some water if needed to make sure there's always enough liquid in the dish, so that the chicken starts falling off the bone. That's a personal choice. Some might call it overcooked, but to me it's French-style — succulent and tender.

Here's the stewed chicken as it comes out of the oven.

While the chicken is cooking, wash, slice, and sauté some nice mushrooms. Gently stir them into the coq au vin about 10 minutes before serving it.

Maybe coq au vin, or chicken fricasséed in red wine is old hat, as they say, but it is always good. Serve it with rice, boiled potatoes, or pasta, accompanied or followed by a green vegetable or a green salad. Wine and bread. Some cheese. Dessert. Coffee. Satisfaction.


  1. Sue,
    Quick, come and see what Ken cooked. Looks REALLY yummy.
    Can we have this on Sunday night?

  2. Leon and Sue,
    Can we come over for dinner on Sunday night?

  3. OK. OK...You hooked me...I'll start this today for lunch tomorrow!!

  4. hi Ken! I'm making fried potatoes today and remembering your instructions not to salt them in the pan. They turned out perfect!

    Also - over at my place I have a funny today about life in a small town. Thought you might enjoy.

    ps as far as poulet in red wine - ahh.. now i know what to make for dinner!

  5. I haven't had coq au vin in a very long time. Hmmmm.

  6. This is on our menu for this week too. I have a stack of little onions and we bought a box of 10 chicken legs at ED. I'll try your technique of marinating.

  7. That does look and sound very good. I'll have to give it a try.

  8. If you put some plain yogurt in the marinade it's supposed to tenderize the meat.

  9. OK
    Sunday night.
    All welcome.
    Looks great Ken.

  10. Sue, one secret ingredient went into the sauce. I added a couple of tablespoons of a thick dark, sweet syrup I made from wine grapes and put up in jars a couple of years ago. Blueberry, blackberry, black-currant, or even dark cherry jam or jelly would work well too. If you are using a thick, "meaty" red wine, you might not need it, but I used a light local Gamay wine for mine. Hope you enjoy the chicken.


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