Saturday, 7 September 2013

Coq au Vin

Clearly it is time for us to start blogging some fall recipes. Today I went out without a jacket on, and I was full-on chilled. So that’s fall weather, and that means everyone wants to cook heartier meals and eat more delicious things. It also means you can cook recipes over the stove slowly without turning your house into a sauna.

My first fall recipe for the year is Coq au Vin. I actually used the lighter, faster Nigella Lawson’s “Coq au Riesling” recipe, which led me to a very fortuitous trip to the liquor store, since I had no white wine in the house (who drinks white wine anymore?!). My favourite Zinfandel (Ravenswood) was on sale, so I clearly put three of those bottles in my cart. Then I found a nice Ontario Riesling, so that went in the cart too.

I got up to the cash to pay for my wine and it was fall Food & Drink day! AND it’s the twentieth anniversary edition. Serious delight abounds, because this is a beautiful food magazine filled with all kinds of lovely recipes. Not only that, it is FREE. Because the province of Ontario insists they are the only people you can purchase liquor from, this magazine is the least they can do. If you don’t live near a Liquor Control Board of Ontario store, maybe you can try to find it online. I keep all of mine on a bookshelf, and even though a few weeks ago I was accused of being a hoarder for this exact behaviour, I’m never sorry when I have a go-to recipe bible.

Anyway, it’s time to cook a chicken. (I would like to interject at this point that I had some very dear friends over for dinner for this meal and the “coq” jokes were abundant. I don’t want it to get too racy for this blog, but I’m sure if you use your imagination for even one second, you can think of at least three excellent cooking puns using the word coq. The French language is a never-ending source of amusement for us Anglophones. The word for seal is “phoque”, which I didn’t know until my four year old godson told me. I nearly scolded him for swearing and then I realized he was talking about the seals on TV.)

This recipe was incredibly easy. You need:
  • Chicken thighs (skinless with bones if you can find them, otherwise boneless skinless works)
  • 1 sliced leek
  • Bottle of Riesling
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • Package of oyster mushrooms, chopped
  •  3 bay leaves, sprig of fresh thyme
  •  Splash of heavy cream
  •  Salt and pepper to taste
I modified a few of Nigella’s instructions, but not many. For example, Nigella calls for fresh dill at the end. I chose thyme because that was easy and accessible for me. I also did use the splash of cream, because I think it makes the recipe richer. (Cream and coq jokes now obvious). Also funny, in the comments for her recipe, people ask questions like, “Can I use carrots here too?” OF COURSE YOU CAN. Why would anyone even ask that and then expect Nigella to take time out of her day to respond to that? Get a hold of yourselves people. You can do anything you want; you are the one that’s going to eat it.

Start with a nice big pot and add a little olive oil. Sauté either some diced bacon or pancetta, and then add in your sliced leek and garlic. When they are soft, place your chicken thighs to the pot. The thighs are skinless because we aren’t going to take them out and sear them after, and non-seared chicken skin is not appealing to the palate, I can assure you. We do want this to be a weeknight meal, so that’s why we’re skipping that step. If you have more time, feel free to get skin-on thighs and then sear them to crisp them up later.

Now you simply dump in your entire bottle of wine, add the bay leaves, thyme and bring to a boil. Once it comes to the boil, cover and simmer for 40 minutes at least. The blogosphere agrees that this recipe is better left at this point and refrigerated overnight, but you can obviously eat it immediately too. Add your cream and give it a stir. You can serve on a bed of noodles, which is apparently the traditional serving, or you can do what I did, which was to serve it on a bed of garlic mashed potatoes. Enjoy!

(Important editorial note: I assumed you knew to take out the bay leaves. Don’t eat those.)

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