Coq au vin

Coq au vin

A true coq au vin is made with the master of the farmyard, a rooster. If you can't find such a beast, use a good-size roasting chicken, and reduce the cooking time (cook it for about one hour, or until the meat is tender and cooked but not falling from the bone).
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
One 7-8 pound rooster ( 3 and one half to 4 pound stewing hen or roasting chicken), cut in serving pieces, with giblets
One half cup cup calvados, brandy, poire william or other liqueur (if using a chicken, reduce the amount of liqueur to one-quarter cup)
12 ounces slab bacon, rind removed and cut into 1-inch chunks (use 8 ounces if cooking a chicken)
1 slice air-cured ham, diced
Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bottle hearty red wine
One bouquet garni (thyme, bay, parsley wrapped together)
2 cloves garlic, green germ removed
2 cups chicken stock

For the garnish:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 pound mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To thicken the sauce:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Melt the butter in a large, heavy stockpot over medium heat. When the butter is hot, brown the rooster on all sides, doing so in two batches if necessary. Standing back and making sure your hair is tied back and your clothes are not over the heat, add the liqueur, then flame it by lighting a match and holding it just above the pot. The liqueur will catch fire and flames will leap into the air and burn out within 1 minute.

Remove the chicken from the pan and add the bacon. Brown it on all sides. While the bacon is browning, mince the ham with the liver and the gizzard. When the bacon is browned, add the chicken back to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Pour the wine over all. Stir in the ham and the giblets, add the bouquet garni and the garlic, and pour in just enough chicken stock to cover the chicken. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat so it is simmering, cover and cook until the chicken is tender but not falling from the bone (1-1/2 hours for a rooster; about 1 hour for chicken).

Make the garnish:
While the rooster is cooking, heat the butter for the mushrooms over medium heat. When it is foaming, add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are tender and their juices have evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes. Season lightly, remove from the heat and reserve.

Make the sauce:
Blend the butter and flour in a small bowl to a homogeneous paste. When the chicken is cooked, about 1/4 cup of the cooking juices into the flour and butter mixture, then pour that mixture into the pan holding the chicken. Stir it in and let it cook, stirring, until the sauce is thickened. Taste for seasoning and remove from the heat. Let the dish sit at least 8 hours, or overnight, before serving.

Serves 6 to 8 (if using a rooster); serves 4 to 6 (if using a chicken).

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