Chef Darien’s recipe for Coq au Vin
1/2 cup thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/4- by 1 1/2-inch strips
2 or more tablespoons olive oil
3 1/2 to 4 1/2 pounds chicken, cut into parts
1/4 cup Cognac
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
Pinch dried thyme
2 onions, peeled and diced
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups dry red wine (Merlot, Pinot Noir – anything that you would drink)
About 2 cups chicken stock
2 garlic cloves, mashed
About 1 tablespoon tomato paste
3/4 pound fresh mushrooms quartered
Sauté the bacon in 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy-bottomed casserole until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Remove the pork (keep to one side), leaving the drippings in the pan. (If you don’t want to use bacon, coat the casserole with 1/8 inch of olive oil.)
Heat the drippings or oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken one piece at a time, carefully don’t to crowd the pan (put too much in at once). (You may need to work in batches). Cook the chicken, turning frequently, until nicely browned on all sides. Carefully pour the Cognac into the pan, let it become bubbling hot, and then, ignite the sauce with a match – it will flame up! Let it flame for a minute, tilting the pan by its handle and swirling the sauce to burn off alcohol. To extinguish the flames, simply cover the pan with its lid.
Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Add the bay leaf and thyme to the pan and place the onion around the chicken. Cover and simmer gently, turning the chicken once, for about 10 minutes.
Uncover the pan, sprinkle the flour over everything, turn the chicken and onions. The flour will be absorbed by the sauce. Cover and cook, turning a couple of times, for 3 to 4 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and gradually stir in the wine and enough stock to almost cover the chicken. Add the bacon, garlic, and tomato paste to the pan, cover, and gently simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. Test the chicken for doneness (there should be no trace of pink and the juices should run clear when the meat is pierced with a knife). Continue cooking until the onions are tender, then add the mushrooms, and simmer 4 to 5 minutes. The sauce should be just thick enough to lightly coat the chicken and vegetables. If it is too thin, remove the chicken and boil it down rapidly to concentrate; if it is too thick, thin it with a little more stock. Taste the sauce carefully, and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Serve immediately