A Chicken In Every Pot
Herbert Hoover said it, sure. Before that, though, King Henri IV of France said it. “I want there to be no peasant in my realm so poor that he will not have a chicken in his pot every Sunday.” Sure, his reign was chaotic and he ultimately had to use military power to occupy the throne. He was benevolent, though, and France enjoyed relative prosperity during his reign. His concern for the finances and well-being of the peasantry was well known and he was often referred to as ‘Good King Henri’ by his subjects.
And so, a chicken in every pot. Or a squirrel, some mutton, a duck or rabbit; whatever had been snared. Add butter or duck fat, sauteing onions, garlic, or shallots. White wine, red wine, or cider. Riesling in Alsace, Burgundy in Dijon.
Whatever was on hand and in season. Aromatics like thyme, tarragon or rosemary. The rustic dishes known all over France are unique because the differ all through France. There are as many recipes for a classic French cassoulet as there are Grand-mères in Lyon. These differences are part of what makes French food a culture, rather than just lists of recipes and ingredients.
So let’s talk turkey about coq au vin. All this, simmering slowly, braising all day while the French farmer’s wife tends children, laundry, baking. It’s the perfect bite: rich, savory, tender, warm, herbal and salty. No one can say for sure when coq au vin originated. Certainly people have been cooking chicken and other meats in wine for ages. Yes, there are a few steps and no, it may not be the perfect recipe for a week night, although I’m sure it could easily be adapted to work in an Instapot. You’re just using one pot, cooking things in a specific order. Easy. Cover, put it in the oven for a couple hours then enjoy with a glass of the same wine you put in the recipe. Finally, do yourself a favor and read through the recipe before starting to cook. Do yourself a favor and get all the chopping and other prep out of the way before hand. Clean as you go. Keep your workspace neat, because a clear table is a clear mind, chef.
I enjoy this recipe because it uses a couple short cuts, making it a more realistic week night dinner option. The addition of tomato paste adds a nice depth of flavor. Finally, the use of chicken thighs makes this dish even more affordable. Chicken thighs are my favorite and they are cheap!
You’ll need the following equipment:
- Large, heavy bottomed pot or pan with a fitted lid. It can be cast iron, porcelain coated (think Le Creuset), stainless steel.
- Kitchen tongs (my very favorite piece of equipment), large spoon (wooden, plastic, whatever you have), dinner sized plate, cutting board, chopping knife.
- Kitchen thermometer to ensure your protein (chicken) has reached safe temperature (165 degrees Fahrenheit )
Coq au Vin
¼ cup all purpose flour
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 tablespoons olive oil (use what you have on hand)
4 strips thick cut, streaky bacon, diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 lb baby portabello mushrooms, halved
4 peeled, crushed cloves of garlic
2 cups dry red wine (I use pinot noir)
3 sprigs fresh thyme, plus a bit more for serving
2 fresh bay leaves
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh, flat leaf parsley, plus a bit more for serving
I serve coq au vin over fresh mashed potatoes. This dish makes the winter heart warm.
- Place flour in a ziploc style bag and season with black pepper. Add chicken, seal bag, toss to coat.
- In your large pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Cook chicken (in batches, if needed. Don’t overcrowd your pan.) until brown on both sides. About five minutes. Transfer chicken to plate.
- In same pot, add bacon and onion, cooking until onions are soft. Then add the garlic, cooking until just fragrant, about a minute, then add the tomato paste. Stir to coat everything. Add the mushrooms, stock, wine, thyme and bay. Combine all then return the chicken to the pot.
- Bring to boil then reduce to medium low. Simmer about 35 to 45 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce thickens. Remove and discard thyme sprigs and bay.
- Serve over mashed potatoes, garnishing with fresh thyme and parsley.
WE HOPE YOU HAVE ENJOYED COOKING WITH CHEF CAROLYN.
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