Thursday, April 14, 2011

Easy Coc au Vin; prepare in the morning, enjoy at night

    I finished supper for the family early this morning. I like cooking things that can be made in the morning and cook all day. Boston butts put on at 7 a.m., Pot roasts put on at noon, and one of my favorites, Coq au Vin, stuck in the oven at around 9:30 a.m. and allowed to slow cook all day. I hate crock pots; they food is cooked unevenly and looks awful. But roasting dishes turn out meals that look beautiful on the table.
    There is no greater hazard to the family budget than for the clock to strike 6 or 7 and dinner not be prepared. It’s just too easy to go out to eat, where even a cheap sandwich meal costs almost $40 for a family of four. So this is a meal you can do early and when suppertime arrives there is very little work involved. So you get a gourmet meal for around $8 instead of sandwiches for $40.
    In my opinion this is good enough for company (maybe TOO good for company!), but you be the judge. It easy enough to make. Note that in my photos I’ve used too large a roasting pan, as you want the chicken to touch so the juices cover it. I’m sure this batch will turn out fine, but as you can see you can easily cook 12 legs which can serve 12 if served on potatoes with a side. For eight (or four) legs, use a smaller pan.

Easy Coq au Vin

NOTE: Many recipes call for the chicken to be marinated overnight in the wine. You may certainly do this, but it really harkens back to the days when this recipe used a tough old rooster and the alcohol enzymes would help tenderize the meat. Marinate if you wish, but I don’t think it is necessary.

NOTE 2: If you use an attractive roasting pan, the chicken legs can be arranged so that you will have a very pretty dish.

For 4 legs, increase proportions as necessary

4 chicken legs
4 slices bacon cut into 1.5-inch strips (try fewer slices of really thick bacon)
Salt and pepper (additional seasonings if desired, used sparingly)
Cooking oil if needed
8 oz. fresh sliced mushrooms (or better yet, whole mushrooms quartered)
1 onion, sliced into rings
Optional: carrots or chopped celery (when I make pot roasts, I add the carrots two or three hours before serving so they won’t be mushy; I don't use carrots in my coc au vin)
½ cup red wine (pinot noir or burgundy or whatever you had leftover from last night)
1 clove or one teaspoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried oregano
Mashed potatoes or rice

Salt and pepper chicken. Fry four slices of the cut-up bacon in a large skillet and transfer to a large covered roasting pan or slow cooker. Add enough cooking oil to skillet to have 2 oz. of oil per four chicken legs.

Brown chicken on all sides and transfer to slow cooker or roasting pan. Saute onions and mushrooms in same skillet, starting with onions and soon adding mushrooms. After mushrooms have sauteed, add garlic and other spices, mix well and add wine.

Pour mixture over chicken in slow cooker or roasting pan. Be sure to scrape off and include any bits that are stuck to the skillet. Cover and cook on LOW in slow cooker for 8 6 to 10 hours or HIGH for 3 to 4 hours. I prefer ovens to slow cookers. You can cook this at 2.5 hours at 325 degrees, or put it in at 325 for one hour, then drop the temperature to 225 for about four or more hours. You be the judge of how you like your food roasted. This could cook all day at a low temperature if you wish.

When this is done, remove roasting pan from oven, and with a ladle remove enough juice back to your skillet to make some gravy. Re-cover chicken and return to oven to keep warm. Heat liquid, slowly add flour, mixing well. Stirring constantly, slowly add a little water. This will not sizzle up like a grease-based gravy, but there is still some grease in it and it will cook down to a nice, reasonably thick gravy. You can pour this back over the chicken or serve on the side from a gravy boat. (The gravy is optional, by the way).

To serve place some mashed potatoes (or if you must, rice) on your plate and place the chicken, mushrooms and onions on top of the potatoes. Top with some gravy.

FINAL NOTE: If you want to go a step more, take about a half cup of flour and “toast” it over low heat in a dry non-stick pan until it turns a light brown. Save in a jar and use this flour for thickening and it will not leave a “floury” taste, but more of a cooked gravy taste. I’ve used plain white flour and have not had any problem.

ADDENDUM, 1-21-2012: I continue to get weekly "hits" on this recipe, so I thought I would add a few tips. First, after you fry the bacon there is a tendency to want to have a little extra grease to fry the chicken. Well, this is fine, but be sure to discard most of this grease before sauteing the onions or your dish will be too greasy! Second, it is possible to "slow cook" this for too long. I'll leave it to your own experience, but if you cook this for eight hours it had better be at very low heat.

This is a really cheap, but nice meal.

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