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Eat this! Coq au vin, savory French fare for cool weather

La Tache’s coq au vin

La Tache’s coq au vin

What it is: Hearty fall and winter fare, the iconic bistro dish coq au vin is a savory French braise of chicken with wine, bacon and onions. It’s usually made with red wine, often Burgundy.

Andrew Alcid

Andrew Alcid

Where it comes from: Although the concept of braising goes back to antiquity, published recipes for coq au vin date only to the early 20th century. One of the earliest in print, in Edmond Richardin’s 1913 L’Art du Bien Manger,” came from Adolphe Brisson, proprietor of l’Auberge du Temple de Mercure in Auvergne in central France. However, Brisson claimed the recipe dated to the 16th century.

Like so many other French classics, coq au vin was popularized in the United States in the 1960s by Julia Child.

What to do with it: “Serve with mashed potatoes, rice pilaf or any of your favorite starchy side dishes!” advises Chef Andrew Alcid of La Tache in Andersonville, who offers coq au vin every Wednesday.

La Tache’s coq au vin
Chicken with red wine, bacon and onions
Chef Andrew Alcid

“This dish is the kind dish that makes any chef happy, it’s classic and simple, and hearty enough to feed any type of hunger while keeping the senses on overload,” Alcid says. “Since taking over La Tache, this is one of the first things I have put on the menu, and one of the only ones not to change.”

1 4 to 5 pound whole chicken
8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 750 ml bottle pinot noir
Canola oil or leftover bacon fat
2 white onions, peeled and diced
1 large carrot, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
Fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 quarts chicken stock or broth
1 cup demiglace or chicken blood
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 cup bacon lardons
1 cup peeled pearl onions
2 cups sliced crimini or chanterelle mushrooms
1 cup peas
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Chopped fresh thyme, parsley and chives

Split the chicken in half, removing the backbone. Mix 3 cloves of the garlic with the wine. Place the chicken in this mixture, cover and refrigerate for 2 to 6 hours. Remove the chicken, saving the liquid.

In a heavy roasting pan or dutch oven over medium heat, heat the oil and sear the chicken skin side down until golden brown. Remove and set aside. Add the remaining garlic and vegetables and cook until they caramelize. Use some of the reserved marinade to deglaze the pan.

Add the chicken stock and herbs, and put the chicken back to the pan. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Cover and cook the chicken for about 1 hour, or until very tender; remove from pot. Continue simmering the braising liquid until it’s reduced by half, and add the demiglace.

Prepare the garnish: While the chicken braises, cook the bacon lardons until golden brown n a saute pan over low heat; remove with a slotted spoon and place on a plate covered with a paper towel to soak up any excess grease. Do not discard the bacon fat from the pan.

Add the mushrooms to the hot pan with the bacon fat and saute until the edges are crispy; remove and place on the same plate with the bacon. In the same pan, caramelize the pearl onions until golden and cooked throughout.

Add the lardons and mushrooms back into the pan, put in the peas and saute together. Season with salt, pepper and fresh herbs to taste.

To serve: Cut the chicken into four pieces (two breasts and two legs). Arrange in a deep platter or large bowl. Pour that lovely reduced braising liquid on top and then add the garnish. 2 to 3 servings.

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