Bravo didn’t post any screen shots of last night’s Top Chef: Masters (an episode that featured a bride who looked like Carrie Underwood with giant boobs — or as I like to call her, Carrie Boobserwood), and so I figured I’d helm my own culinary minded post with yet another installment of Adventures in Domesticity. This time around I opted to veer from my typical Asian predilections and go more European. After all, I’d been craving chicken lately (odd, I know), and what better way to celebrate the bird than by attempting coq au vin for the very first time. It also helped that at least two of my friends (Meeshie and jash) had both recently and independently whipped up a batch of the dish, thus stoking my craving for it. For such a classically French dish, I would normally defer to a Julia Child recipe, but alas, my editions of Julia Child & Company and Julia Child & MORE Company (caps are mine, not hers) did not seem to have any coq au vin instructions (or at least I didn’t see them), and so I then headed straight for the Hamptons — metaphorically — and saw what Ina Garten had to say on the subject. Sure enough, she had a recipe on the Food Network website (as did Alton Brown and Tyler Florence, but I wasn’t about to trust them over Ina). A quick stop at Fresh & Easy later (and regrettably Ralph’s too), I was ready to go!

The only question was whether or not this version could live up to great one my mom used to make when I was a kid (um, I guess I could have asked her for her recipe, but sometimes logic escapes me).

Things started off as they often do: with a cutting board and a knife. I took some time to make sure my knife was extra sharp because for the first time ever, I was doing something VERY bold:

I was gonna break down my own chicken! I won’t lie: I was a bit scared. Well, not scared. It’s more like I was concerned. I had visions of the knife slipping and the chicken going flying across the kitchen, perhaps rolling into the living room and spreading salmonella to my recently vacuumed carpet. Then I remembered that I hadn’t vacuumed in about a month (and by a month, I mean two months); so really, the chicken should have been more afraid of the carpet than the other way around. Not that either one is afraid of the other. These are my issues, you see. Okay, I’m babbling.

Since I was alone, I couldn’t document the exciting process of me butchering the zteeecken, but I am proud to report that the thighs and leg were a breeze to remove. Well, there were some mild issues with the drumsticks, but nothing too detrimental.

I couldn’t remember what to do next though: cut out the backbone or remove the wings? I immediately consulted an instructional video for about the tenth time (don’t worry, I washed my hands first, which is why I was able to hold the camera at this impasse)

Eventually I figured it out (backbone next, followed by wings). I plopped all the pieces in this bowl and stared triumphantly over it for a moment. Hey, it wasn’t that bad! And considering this poultry had cost me only $4, I’m starting to think this might be how I buy chicken from now on.

As for that back bone, I dropped it in a pot for an impending chicken stock experience. I couldn’t tell you how thrilled I was: finally, HOMEMADE CHICKEN STOCK! JUST HOW INA ALWAYS WANTS!

Now it was time to start cooking for real, and no that wasn’t a veiled reference to Sunny Anderson. Here I’ve chopped up some bacon, which is always a great way to start any dish.

I tossed the bacon in my dutch oven and rendered it out for about eight or ten minutes. In the meantime, I seasoned the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.

After I took the bacon out, the chicken went in (in batches). Time to brown away!

About fifteen minutes later, all the pieces were browned and looking quite lovely.

Next went in some onions and carrots. Wonderful odors ensued.

Macro shot!

And so the garlic has arrived.

After about ten minutes of cooking the veggies, it was time for all the ingredients to be reunited as one happy family.

Macro shot sequel!

I then added some brandy, some chicken broth, and half a bottle of red wine. Confession: I used the $2 stuff from Fresh & Easy, not the recommended pinot noir.

Oh, and how could i forget? A thyme bundle harvested from my very own herb garden! Perhaps tomorrow I’ll post a “State of the Herbs” update as it’s been several months. Spoiler alert: things are not well.

Well, I covered up the coq au vin pot and put it in the oven at 250 degrees. I then turned my attention to the stock, which consisted of water, parsley, dill, garlic, onion, carrot, peppercorns (black AND white), and salt. I didn’t totally know what I was doing, but it seemed about right.

A little later, everything was simmering away beautifully. This would continue for the next three and a half hours.

While the chicken cooked, I chopped up some cremini mushrooms.

Time to sauté these mofos.

While the mushrooms underwent their transformative experience, I then mashed some butter and flour together. Yes, there were indeed many steps to this recipe, but it wasn’t overwhelming, and they were all spaced out conveniently.

After thirty minutes, I took the chicken out of the stove to test it. Fully cooked! According to Ina, it should be “just not pink.” Seemed like we were on the right path; so I shut off the stove and moved on to the final steps.

Next it was time for some frozen pearl onions to join the party.

Kind of looks like I spilled corn puffs in the pot.

Meanwhile, I had kind of forgotten about the mushrooms, which was a good thing since I tend to pull them prematurely from the sauté pan. I don’t know why — it’s just a thing I do. Luckily, my neglect meant that they were all sorts of beautiful brown.

In went the mushrooms. All I had to do now was let the dish simmer away for about ten minutes on the stovetop.

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble, etc.

With only about two minutes before the chicken was done, I realized I had totally forgotten to make a side dish. DISASTER! I quickly threw some Earth Balance and a touch of olive oil into my mushroom skillet. This was followed by some frozen spinach, some cayenne pepper, some black pepper, and some garlic powder (I had used the last real garlic in my stock, d’oh!). I had to work quickly; so no photos were taken, but needless to say, I hobbled together a lovely little side in just a few minutes’ time.

At last, the final dish!

With little else to do, I unscrewed my bottle of wine and enjoyed a lovely faux-candlelit dinner with my date: TV.

The verdict? Very good. Not amazing though! There were two problems (and these were minor quibbles really). First, it was a touch too salty, which got in the way of the wine flavor. I know, I know — it’s an Ina Garten recipe. Of course it’ll be salty. I actually, salted less than she recommended. The problem was that my chicken broth was made from bullion, and occasionally, that can be extremely salty. I think it may have overpowered the dish slightly. I should note that I haven’t eaten the chicken since Tuesday, and as we all know with stews, they only get better. I’ll update on that front soon.

The second issue was that the meat wasn’t really falling off the bone. It was cooked perfectly, mind you, but I was expecting it to be crazy tender. In the future, I might have left it in the oven longer. This wasn’t a major deal though. I will say, however, that the chicken from the stock was so amazingly tender that it almost outshone the coq au vin (which is sort of sad and not right — and yes, I DID pick at the chicken when the stock was done).

Overall though, this was a very solid meal, and I would have no qualms about making it again with a few tweaks.

Who else has made coq au vin? Any tips? Any other recipe recommendations?

16 replies on “ADVENTURES IN DOMESTICITY: Ina Garten’s Coq Au Vin Edition”

    1. Well it looks like my comment-via-twitter plugin is working. Of course, the plugin automatically commented from me thanks to the automatically generated tweet the site sent out upon updating; so that’s a bit wonky. Hmmm… we’ll see how this plugin lasts…

  1. Am proud of you son; you remembered coq au vin from your once-a-week home-
    cooked meal (To those of you out there in the cloud, I’m a working mom).
    As for the secret? Start with a good chicken — a kosher chicken. And don’t add salt.
    They are plump, flavorful, without hormones, and they make every other bird taste like
    cardboard. The only downside? They’re more expensive.
    Second, if you don’t want your chicken dish to look like mud, use white wine.
    Julia might not have approved but, hey.

    Your chicken soup looked great. Another tip: don’t use bouillon cubes. Pour in some of that
    good Pacific Whatever chicken broth (buy in Costco), chicken bones and wings, and cook away.
    That’s it from the East Coast. 🙂

  2. I’m going to try this, always wanted to but sounded to involved, and its looks easy and delish

    The only thing was the shot of the bottle of 409? I wasn’t sure if that was an ingredient or what or you just wanted to show that you take cross contamination seriously

    Still loving your new site, every time I come here I’m surprised mucho gracias!

  3. Kadooz on the coq!

    Coq au vin has been on my to do list for a long time. I think I’m going to attempt a crock pot version and use white wine to avoid purple chicken. I love that the recipe only calls for half a bottle of wine, so that I can drink the other half as I cook, and then just open a new bottle with dinner.

    I am mostly a bad cook, and don’t know how to make anything without a recipe. Seriously, I recently googled to find out how long to boil an egg. But I did learn one helpful hint, which is that store-bought chicken broth can be frozen if you don’t use the whole container. So I bought the half-cup gladware containers and froze away. No more waste, and no more coma-inducing fridge odors from forgotten leftover broth.

  4. I love this new commenting system so much I want to take it behind the middle school and get it pregnant.

    1. hahahahahahaha me too!! or at least take it behind school and give it a cigarette

    2. I’m so happy that people like it. I’ve already noticed an uptick with the comments. I’m very pleased.

      1. Posting a comment on the old commenting system:
        1) read blog entry
        2) draft response
        3) be sure to hit Crtl+A then Crtl+C to copy entire response because captcha will have expired by the time you go to post it
        4) type in captcha
        5) sure enough, it’s expired
        6) go back to main page
        7) go back to blog entry (nope you can’t just refresh the page for the blog entry)
        8) paste in the response you copied because you were no fool
        9) enter captcha
        10) cross fingers
        11) if it doesn’t post, say fuck it, it wasn’t that important anyway

        So yeah, the new system is divine.

        1. LOL – so true. But at least now we know that if you pray hard enough for something it could actually happen.

  5. Great job Ben!

    I love this recipe. I’ve made it a few times – love it. I last made it for my mother in law. I get good bread to go along w/ it, I could just eat up the soup part alone.

  6. One question about the chicken butchering. Did you leave the breast whole? It looks like one huge piece. And the finished product, which I’m assuming looks like that big breast, looks kind of like an alligator head on a plate. Or I guess crocodile since it’s more brown and less dark green

  7. I did split the breast in two. They were just big breasts. I guess that’s the standard for Hollywood.

  8. Julia has a thing in her recipe that when you add the brandy you need to set it on fire! The flame burns out by itself but she swears that it enhances the taste tremendously. I don’t know if that’s true, but my coq was pretty tasty! (That sounds dirty.)

  9. I also noticed the 409 perilously close to the food prep area.
    Please tell me you used a separate cutting board for the fowl and the veggies?

    BTW, that was a pretty good looking coq!

  10. Still waiting for the “State of the Herbs” report here.
    And just to brag a bit, I picked my first two ripe grape tomatoes of the year yesterday. Was suprised since SoCal has been so chilly so far.

Comments are closed.