Monday, February 8, 2010

Going French

What can be more satisfying than cooking up a storm on a Saturday? So many favourites in our home, but this week I went for the trusty Coq au Vin. Easy to prepare. Shove it in the oven for a couple of hours and it's done. Served with a luscious spoonful of mash, there is nothing more comforting. Did I mention it was 30 odd degrees outside? Oh never mind. Just turn on the air and enjoy the meal.
Katie and Sara getting stuck into dinner. Note the elegant serving vessels!

Here's my version of this VERY rich dish. (I've adjusted it slightly and left out the lashings of butter, but it's still very rich)

Coq au Vin

You can cook the entire dish on the top of the stove, but I prefer to get it started on the gas, and then pop it in the oven and forget about it. So you need a pot with handles that won't melt in the oven! I have a large Le Cruiset. Perfect for this dish.

Preheat oven to 160 - 170 degrees.


2.5 kgs chicken pieces. (legs & thighs are great. If you can get free range organic chook, even better) Cut off all the excess fatty bits. Feed them to the dog. She'll love you.
1 bottle red wine. (I used Shiraz)
250g diced bacon
15 French shallots or small onions peeled and left whole
500mls chicken stock (my favourite is the Massel brand. No additives)
2 teaspoons tomato paste
125ml brandy
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 sprigs of thyme
3 bay leaves
2 cups fresh button mushrooms cleaned and sliced in halves
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
30g flour
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Toss the onions and bacon in the olive oil. Fry lightly till the bacon fats have started to melt.

2. Add the chicken pieces. Brown slightly.
3. Now the easy bit. Pour yourself a glass of red wine. Throw the rest into the pot.
4. Add the brandy, bay leaves, thyme, tomato paste and chicken stock.
5. Add the mushrooms.

6. Put the lid on the pot and pop it into the oven.
7. Cook slowly for approximately an hour and a half. Check the dish towards the end of the cooking time. If the sauce needs thickening, then using the flour, mix it with a little cold water and stir into the pot. Simmer for a few more minutes. Check seasoning.
8. Just before serving, sprinkle the parsley into the pot.

9. Serve with soft, creamy mash potatoes.

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