Coq Au Vin

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Hello I'm new to ChefTalk.  What a great site!

I am making Coq au vin for the first time and would like to get it right the first time as it is for a group of foodies. 

I'm searching for the best recipe - better than Ina Garten's if you can imagine that.  Not a professional cook so if you have tips that might help me with the finished product please kindly share.   I appreciate any advice.

What is it best served with?   

Thank you! 
 
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Who's going to be the first to say that you can't make real coq au ven without an old rooster? Come on, I know someone wants to.....

I would check out Alton Brown. He must have a good recipe. The main thing is to make sure you marinate overnight and don't overcook.

Usually the stew has enough going on to be served on its own, i.e. you don't need many side dishes. Some plain starch like boiled potatoes or buttered noodles should work. Maybe a nice bitter salad for contrast. A baguette with salted butter for soaking sauce. And wine....natch. Making me hungry.

You might look at several recipes to compare notes. I would look into making your own stock too. It's easy and makes a HUGE difference.

If you have time, do a practice run. Work out the kinks before hand. Adjust the recipe as needed.

It is not hard to make, but comprises a lot of steps so it can be daunting...practice if you can.
 
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I use Julia Child's recipe from her 2 volume set on French Cooking.

It is a tried and true recipe. I have been using it for decades.
 
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A classic and lovely dish.  Any recommendations @French Fries?

You may want to visit your local butcher and ask about a rooster.  It's not something that is on hand all the time but I find that if you simply ask they can put in an order for you especially.  If you can't find rooster you may find a hen in the supermarket on short notice.  It makes a difference in the long cooking process though a chicken will do fine if you can't find either.

Any starch you serve it with will do.  Fluffy rice, buttered noodles, even polenta is nice.  My personal favorite is boiled baby potatoes tossed with butter and parsley in a bowl that has been rubbed with a slice of raw garlic.  And please go through the trouble of finding a proper crusty baguette.

The chicken is the star but you may want to make a starter before the big meal.  This could be in the form of a plated dish such as a cheese tart with caramelized onions topped with a peppery blend of fresh greens.  End with a cheese plate and fig tart accompanied by fresh fruits. Turn your Pandora station on the Edith Piaf station playing softly in the background and you'll have transported your guests to an evening à Paris!
 
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When we process some roosters on our farm I always comment on how much better the flavor is. If you are making this dish it maybe fun to check around and see if you can find one or two roosters locally.This would also make it a bit more authentic  with a feel of being in a villa in France. I don't think most people make a dish like this at home because it so involved. It's really not that hard, it really just looks that way. Most recipes are basically close to being in the ball park of each other. Pick the one you think looks like it's explained easier. 
 
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I think, more importantly than trying to get a rooster - which can sometimes end up tough and chewy and a far cry from that dreamy coq-au-vin you were picturing in your head - you should focus on getting a good quality chicken. I get chickens from a farmer's market, they are 6 to 9 months old, I'm not sure how old they have to be to be called rooster, but IMO those are just great for that dish. Also keep in mind that an older bird is going to take more time and energy to break down! After that, breaking down a supermarket chicken feels like cutting through a pat of butter. 

So:

1) Find yourself a good quality, older chicken

Next. 

2) Find yourself a good quality red wine. 

No need to go spend $100 on a bottle, but please don't use $2.49 Trader Joes wine either. If you want to stay close to the original you can find a Burgundy wine.. but Burgundy wine is a bit expensive so you'd probably have to spend too much to get a decent one. The truth is you can use just about any red wine you'd like (and even white wine if you want!!), keeping in mind that the wine you're using will dictate the flavor profile of the sauce. I've used pinot noir, cote du rhone, syrah... with great success. 

3) Make your own chicken stock. 

Spend as much time as you can making quality stock. You can roast chicken bones (break down the chicken you're going to use for the dish, and keep its back and wing tips for the stock, plus some more bones), cover them in tomato paste and roast some more, roast celery, onions, carrots, garlic... I like to use thyme and bay leaf, black pepper...

4) Marinate or not? 

You can choose to marinate the chicken overnight or not. If you do, you'll want to first boil the wine and let it cool down to avoid the alcohol in the wine reacting with the chicken, which can make it tough. Boil the wine, let cool, add thyme, garlic, bay leaf, peppercorns, carrots, celery and onions and let marinate overnight. 

Marinated chicken will be closer to the 'authentic' coq au vin, meaning the flesh will be darker, colored by the wine. The chicken will taste more like wine and less like chicken

Unmarinated chicken will stay white inside, but you still get the wonderful sauce. The chicken taste more like chicken

5) Classical garniture (I highly recommend you follow it, because it's delicious): 
  • Sautéed mushrooms
  • Sautéed lardons (bacon pieces, ideally you'll find a block of cured pork belly that you can cut in larger cubes, rather than using flat slices of bacon).
  • Glazed pearl onions "glacés a brun". Don't use the frozen stuff. Get fresh pearl onions, or fresh green onions (look for them at Mexican markets) ... that stuff:
    Then in a pan, add the clean, peeled onions (without the stems), cover with water to 2/3 the height of the onions, add a tablespoon of sugar, a few good knobs of butter, and salt. Let simmer gently until the water cooks off and the onions start being glazed by the caramel, until you get a nice caramel color on the onions. 
    These glazed onions, IMO, is one of the highlights of the entire dish!

  • Toasted bread slices, cut into triangles, with one pointed end dipped in the sauce and the dipped in freshly minced parsley. 

  • Accompaniment: steamed potatoes, or fresh egg noodles, who both work great to soak up the delicious sauce. 
6) Procedure:
  1. Color the chicken in hot oil. Take your time, and get as much color as you can on as much surface of the chicken pieces as possible. Color is flavor. You're starting to build the flavor of the sauce!
  2. Add diced onions, carrot and celery, thyme, and full squashed garlic cloves, bay leaf, and sweat. 
  3. Add a couple tablespoon of flour and cook for a couple mn. This will later help thicken the sauce. 
  4. Pour about half chicken stock / half wine, to cover the chicken pieces. That's a lot of liquid (1.5 or 2 liters altogether). But that's going to be the sauce, which is the BEST part of this dish! So you want a lot of it. 
  5. Simmer for 20 mn to 1 hour depending on the age and toughness of the chicken.
I like to sprinkle the final dish with minced parsley. 

I may have forgotten something, but that's the basic idea. Let me know if you have any questions!
 
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A castrated rooster is called a capon in these parts, but the bird is huge and takes a long time to cook. Probably that's why it's a good choice for Coq au Vin.
 
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Nice post @French Fries  and makes me want to make coq au vin soon.  Maybe when the weather turns because now is still BBQ and salad time for me, can't imagine turning on the stove or oven for a long time.  Being authentic is nice, but being realistic is nicer.  Get the best bird you can find, use a good wine, cook and be merry!  
 
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A castrated rooster is called a capon in these parts, but the bird is huge and takes a long time to cook. Probably that's why it's a good choice for Coq au Vin.
I've never tried it, but I feel like using a capon for coq au vin is almost a waste of a capon though? As I'm sure you know coq au vin was a recipe invented to deal with the toughness of old roosters, which you had to marinate overnight (or more) and slowly cook in liquid for a long time to tenderize. 

But a capon, being castrated, becomes much fattier than non-castrated chickens, and is therefore very tender. It makes it an ideal candidate for roasting IMO. 
 

nicko

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@French Fries  I agree I would not use a capon for coq au vin they are expensive and as you said not really suitable for a braise.
 
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First tip is to use a blue foot chicken. Second tip is to puree the liver with some red wine and brandy. Then when you are finishing up the sauce, at the very end, pull it off the heat and add the pureed liver whisking it in until it is absorbed and thickens the sauce.
 
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I think all of the advice above is pretty spot on. I hope it comes out great

I know this changes the game entirely, but what are people's thought of doing it with a turkey?
 
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WOW. This thread makes me feel like such a hack. I use boneless thighs ... and I only marinate for three(3) hours. I don't make my own stock ... It's too much work and too expensive when you can buy quality stock in any good store. Please don't preach to me that you all can tell the difference ... because I don't believe you. 

That "rooster" idea only is because the people making this dish ... a PEASANT dish ... were dirt poor. They used the oldest, meanest, next in line to die rooster, because it was cheapest on the farm. The would marinate it for 3-days because it was an old tough nasty bird. I think some of you all have just gotten too romantic over this dish to realize and understand reality. 
 
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WOW. This thread makes me feel like such a hack. I use boneless thighs ... and I only marinate for three(3) hours. I don't make my own stock ... It's too much work and too expensive when you can buy quality stock in any good store. Please don't preach to me that you all can tell the difference ... because I don't believe you. 

That "rooster" idea only is because the people making this dish ... a PEASANT dish ... were dirt poor. They used the oldest, meanest, next in line to die rooster, because it was cheapest on the farm. The would marinate it for 3-days because it was an old tough nasty bird. I think some of you all have just gotten too romantic over this dish to realize and understand reality. 
Not everyone has access to "good quality stock" in their local markets, that's usually why people suggest to make your own.  You're a pro so you've probably sought out to find a good stock and it probably took a few tries.  Laymen haven't been through that trouble to know.  What's important here is that the stock that goes in the dish should be pretty good.  Otherwise people end up using a bouillon cube and we all know that's not the same.

Sure, its a "peasant" dish but believe it or not peasants have access to some of the greatest dairy, produce, and meats available to mankind.  I come from a village where all food is considered peasant food but the quality of ingredients would put wholefoods to shame.  That's reality.  And rooster meat is delicious if prepared correctly.
 
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Sure ... good stock ... OK.  I was explaining the peasant idea because for MY $$$ I'm not dealing with any old, mean, nasty, next in line to die roosters, like the peasants did. I get no love or passion of cooking from using goofy ingredients like rooster ... when very nice high-quality on-sale chicken is available. That's just ME I guess ... I'm not doing it. The "romance" of this dish ... to ME ... is doing it cheaply with mostly what I have on hand, or I can get with no difficulty as the peasants did.  That ... to ME ... is "authentic".

Pretty much anyone with access to a computer, that doesn't live in some third-world country, should be able to find some pre-packaged stock. 



 
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I don't make my own stock ... It's too much work and too expensive when you can buy quality stock in any good store. Please don't preach to me that you all can tell the difference ... because I don't believe you. 
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Come on, are you telling me that you can't (or don't believe others) when they say they can't tell a difference between store bought and homemade stock??? I agree that there are some "OK" store bought chicken stock out there, but: a) most of them are garbage, and b) you can absolutely tell the difference between home made and store bought. 100%!

And hey, if you are using a whole chicken for the dish (which you should be) and marinating overnight (which you should be) you have plenty of time to simmer the carcass for a few hours and strain the liquid out. If that sounds like "too much work" then I don't know what to say. 

Butcher chicken. Make marinade. Marinate chicken overnight. Make stock from carcass. Cook for 4 hours. Strain. Cool overnight. 

Hell, you're probably better off using water instead of most of those garbage pre-made stock. The dish would still taste great if you braised the marinated chicken without any stock--using the homemade stock just takes the dish to "11."  

 
 
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Heck, I for one, don't have access to shop bought stock and ordering online is not gonna work.

But I have tried some (when visiting my dad) and I find a lot of them way too salt.

I agree with @Someday that it is not that much of an effort to make chicken stock. I keep the back bone of the chicken, freeze and when I have enough bones I make stock.

If I don't have it, I just use water
 
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I'm not a snob about stock or anything and I'm know to have some jars of Better Than Boullion in my fridge for pan sauces. But making stock is really not that complicated and those of us who cook as often as we do tend to have stock in or freezer. I keep quarts and pints. Doesn't everyone roast a chicken at least once a month? The bones get made into a stock immediately whether I need it for a dish or not. On a scale of 1-10 (1 being a made-from-scratch cook and 10 being Sandra Lee) I'm about a 4. I do what makes sense within my lifestyle.
 

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