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June 5, 2018
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Coq au Vin Blanc!---YUM!
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        TRADITIONALLY, COQ AU VIN, CHICKEN IN WINE, OR TECHNICALLY COCK OR ROOSTER IN WINE, IS MADE WITH RED WINE, usually a burgundy. And the older the rooster the more flavorful the dish. Nowadays, any high quality chicken will work. The classic version is Julia Child’s from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” Now, I won’t argue that IT’S DELICIOUS. BUT IT CAN BE A REALLY FUSSY DISH TO MAKE, requiring a lot of time over the stove, moving ingredients in and out of many pots.
        Here’s how her recipe starts. She boils the lardons (bacon pieces) before browning them. Boils, freezes, then peels and sautes tiny pearl onions. Browns mushrooms, and makes a beurre manie—a butter flour paste. And all of this done separately, before we’ve even gotten to the chicken. Plus, she sets the dish aflame with a splash of Cognac. Needless to say, this is a ton of work and with lots of dirty pots for one dish, and frankly, I’m terrified that I’ll burn the house down! I don’t want you to burn your house down either. For me, Julia’s red wine makes for a stronger, heavier flavored dish, and I find the red color of the chicken a little off-putting.
        THIS TAKE ON THE CLASSIC VEERS AWAY FROM THE TRADITIONAL USING A DRY WHITE WINE INSTEAD, SACRE BLU!!! I’ve whittled the steps down considerably too, to save you some time in the kitchen. Plus, even though JULIA IS PROBABLY ROLLING OVER IN HER GRAVE, I actually like this way better. It’s lighter, more springtime friendly, filled with the season’s garden vegetables---spring onions, peas, carrots, and fresh thyme, along with the customary mushrooms.
        Although this recipe serves 3-4, IT CAN EASILY BE DOUBLED. Serve it immediately or the leftovers, if there are any, are great the next day. Now, JULIA WOULD PROBABLY NOT BE HAPPY ABOUT THAT EITHER. A crucial part of her recipe is chilling it overnight, skimming off any accumulated fat, and very gently reheating it to serve. She would never serve it the same day it’s made. But I think the sauce is better the day of, and besides, I COULD NEVER WAIT THAT LONG.

LESSONS Learned:
1. Make sure you start with chicken that is room temperature before you sear it.
2. I’m very fond of a mesh splatter screen to stop any of the fat from going everywhere when you cook the chicken.
3. Any good dry white wine will be delicious. I used a Sauvignon Blanc. Remember, if it’s good enough to drink, it’s good enough to cook with.
4. Depending on the size of your mushrooms, you may need to cut them in half or in quarters.
5. Make sure to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan after you add the wine. There’s lots of flavor there.
6. If flour isn’t your thing, you can leave it out along with the peas, and make it carb free. You just won’t end up with a thickened sauce.

loosely inspired by Julia Child
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 pound thin-sliced bacon, cut short ways in ½ inch pieces, about 4-5 slices
2 pounds chicken pieces of your choice, I used 3 thighs and one split breast, cut in half, taken out of the fridge 30 minutes before cooking.
1/2 yellow onion, ½ inch dice, about 1 cup
7-8 small carrots, or 2 large, peeled, and halved long ways, cut into 3 inch pieces, about 3/8 pound
1/3 pound white mushrooms, small buttons or larger ones cut in halves or quarters
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 Tablespoons dry sherry
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Make the Coq au Vin:
        Preheat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Add the bacon and cook until browned and crisp, about 10 minutes. Rotate the pot once or twice for even browning on the bottom of the pot. Remove with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel lined dish, and set aside. Remove all but 2 Tablespoons of the fat 9n the pot, and discard, or save for another use.
        Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel, and lightly season both sides with salt and pepper. Add the chicken pieces to the Dutch oven skin side down. Don’t crowd the pan. You may have to brown them in batches. Cook until golden brown and crisp, about 6-8 minutes. Turn over and sear the chicken on the other side for about another 3-4 minutes. It should take about 10-12 minutes in total. Remove the seared chicken to a plate.
        Drain all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pan again. Add the onions, carrots, mushrooms, garlic, thyme and bay leaf. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften and caramelize, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and sherry, and reduce by about 1/3, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot.
        Add the butter to the pan and melt. Stir in the flour, and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce will thicken. Stir in the chicken stock and bacon. Nestle the chicken pieces into the pot, skin side up, and bring to a simmer. Don’t cover the chicken skin with the sauce to allow it to stay crispy. Turn the heat down to medium low. Cover and cook for about 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
        Stir in the peas, just to thoroughly warm them. If the sauce is too thick, you may need a little extra chicken stock to thin it. Remove the bay leaf and twigs from the thyme.
        Serve immediately. Can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Skim off any fat, if desired, but not necessary, and gently reheat to serve.

Makes 3-4 servings, easily doubled.      YUM!
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