An award-winning Coq Au Vin, I ate at Le Petit Bistro in Guernsey for the first time about 6 years ago, had been making my life a misery. Recreating a dish from just a flavour, without actual recipe is annoyingly difficult for a home cook. And let’s be honest, I am no more or less than that. It’s been a long challenge, dear reader, which almost turned me into a vegetarian!
Only last week my Sisyphus efforts, rolled right down to the bottom of my Coq Au Vin Mountain, twice! Yes, I had been pretty much living on Coq Au Vin and if Chris was here he would surely knock on my common sense door by now. I don’t even remember how many versions of Coq Au Vin I have cooked over time. I followed the celebrity chef’s recipes, including my kitchen goddess Julia’s, and none of them tasted like the one at Le Petit Bistro.
I emailed Le Petit Bistro, and asked whether they would be kind enough to share the mysterious recipe, but I have not heard back. I went there and asked, but the manager was very clear about not being able to share the signature recipe with anyone, even if this person offers to to work for free as a dishwasher, for any length of time. They also had no temporary job vacancies for an apprentice, kitchen porter or potatoes and onion peeler. So I was left with no choice, but to keep trying to cook it at home based on what I knew.
I and Coq Au Vin exercised a lot together
The syrupy consistency of the smoky and acidic clear, sauce and the sensation it delivers to my taste buds is just overwhelming…
X number of chickens, many wine bottles and hours and hours of cooking later led to one victorious Friday afternoon.
It tasted like the best Coq Au Vin I’ve ever cooked and damn close to the one I was struggling to copy. I got some partial information about the cooking technique Le Petit Bistro uses, adapted it and eventually, made it work. I am officially at peace with Coq Au Vin.
- 1½ kg chicken pieces (legs, ideally)
- 6 garlic cloves
- 12 baby onions
- 2 medium carrots or parsnips
- 250 g smoked lardons or fat bacon
- 750 ml Cabernet Sauvignon
- 5 tbsp brandy
- 500 ml chicken or veal stock
- 1 bouquet garni tied in a bundle with a kitchen twine or secured in a sachet: 5 fresh thyme strings, 3 rosemary strings, 5 sage leaves, 2 bay leaves, bunch of parsley
- 200 g baby closed cup mushrooms
- 1 tbsp flour (optional)
- 50 g butter
- 2 chicory
- 4 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped to serve.
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Place chicken parts, bouquet garni and garlic in a large bowl, cover with wine and marinate overnight (at least 12h).
- Remove the chicken from the marinade and reserve both separately.
- Colour lardons in a wide and deep pan, then remove from the pan and reserve. Use the remaining fat to seal the chicken meat. When chicken is sealed lower the heat. Pour the brandy in and taking all necessary safety precautions ignite the liquid in the pan. Let the flames die out after 1-2 minutes by covering with the lid or pour some of the wine into the pan.
- Preheat the oven to 100C.
- Add all the wine, lardons, carrots and the remaining marinade ingredients (bouquet garni and garlic) to the chicken pan. Bring it all up to boil and without the lid simmer gently for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked throughout.
- In the meantime, in a separate, smaller pan, brown mushrooms in butter. (If you would like the sauce a bit thicker sprinkle the flour over and let it bubble for a minute stirring occasionally.)
- Add the smaller pan content to the chicken with the juices along with stock, baby onions and halved chicory before covering with lid and placing the dish in the oven for 6 hours.
- You can strain the juices through a cheesecloth afterwards, if you like a clear sauce and reduce it further. Adjust the flavour with salt and pepper.