A rainbow of peppers at the Place Monge market, Paris
Allow me to dispel some of the intimidation or complication of French cooking. Coq au Vin (pronounced coke-o-van) is nothing more than a fancy-shmancy way of saying Chicken Stew or Chicken in Wine. But would you pay $35 for an entrée of Chicken Stew? I think not, so Coq au Vin it is!
Many people claim Coq au Vin as their own, however, legend has it that Julius Caesar’s cook created the first Coq au Vin recipe after the Gauls gave Caesar a tough old rooster when he conquered them…or perhaps that was the first recorded act in history of someone "giving someone the bird"?! But I digress… yes, back to the Coq au Vin…
Braising is the preferred cooking method for older, tougher cuts of meat as the long, slow heat and liquid tenderizes and flavors the meat and makes it edible. Always have a chewy crusty bread on hand to mop up the juice after! Burgundy red wine appears to be the wine of choice for this dish, after a quick scan through various recipes, but any hearty red will do.
My mise en place (prepped ingredients), ready to start cooking.
The traditional recipe calls for browning lardons (thick bacon cut crosswise ¼" thick) first, then browning the chicken in the lardon fat. It also calls for mushrooms quartered and added about half way through and a flambé of cognac before you add the wine. But…as this is titled "Fast Coq au Vin, My Way" and not "Traditional Coq au Vin, Julius Caesar’s Chef’s Way", I am sticking to what I had on hand the other night when it was too late to run to the store. Sound familiar? So now you can enjoy the virtues of simply French country fare, Fast! Bon Appetit mes amis. Sante et Bonheur.
I’ve just added the wine and am ready to cover and cook (step 5).
Fast Coq au Vin, My Way
2 shallots – sliced
1 onions – peeled, quartered and sliced
4 cloves garlic – peeled
2 peppers – seeded and sliced
2–3 cups red wine
1. cut up chicken. i keep the leg & thigh together and leave the breast meat on the bone. it helps it retain it’s shape during cooking. salt & pepper both sides.
2. add olive oil to the pan. brown the chicken on both sides and set aside.
3. in the same pan add the onions, garlic and shallots and sauté on medium for a few minutes.
4. add the sliced peppers and sauté on medium until they start to soften
5. add the chicken back to the pan and pour in the wine, enough to come to the middle of the peppers plus a bit more.
6. bring to a boil, cover and turn down to low or medium low, depending on your stove.
7. cook for approx 30-40 minutes or until done. check after 20 minutes to see if there is enough liquid. add more wine if necessary.
* if there is too much liquid and the chicken is done, then take out the chicken and the peppers with tongs or a slotted spoon, leaving as much wine in the pan as possible, crank up the heat and reduce the wine to the desired amount and consistency. you can sprinkle in a tablespoon of flour to thicken the liquid but combine and cook thoroughly so you don’t have that flour-y taste.