Coq au vin

Origin: Elizabeth David, Delia Smith and Me


For three or four.

  • Chicken, cut into 4 pieces
  • Pickling onions (not pickled though), about 8 to 12 - peeled
  • Tiny button mushrooms, about 10 to 20 - whole
  • 2 or 3 slices of bacon - diced
  • Bottle of red wine
  • Bread (optional)
  • Herbs, some or all of: bayleaves, parsley, thyme
  • Butter, olive oil, salt, pepper, flour

Heat the butter and oil in a casserole large enough to hold all the ingredients. Brown the chicken pieces, remove and set aside for the moment. Put the onions and bacon into the pan and fry until the bacon is crispy and the onions slighty browned. Put the chicken back in, the whole bottle of wine (keep some to drink if you prefer, but use plenty), and the herbs, salt and pepper. Simmer covered until the chicken is done, about 40 minutes to an hour. Put the mushrooms in about 10 to 15 minutes before the end.

Now the tricky part. The idea is to reduce the liquid and thicken it and then pour over the chicken and vegetables. The easiest way to do this is probably to pour the liquid through a sieve into a smaller saucepan leaving the casserole dry, and putting that in the oven. Put the liquid on a very high heat and bubble until it reduces substantially, until there is as much liquid as you want gravy. This is probably somewhere between a third and two thirds of the initial volume, depending on how you like your gravy. I like mine very thick and intensely flavoured. While it's boiling, mix a teaspoon of butter and a teaspoon of flour into a paste. Add this in bits to the gravy as it is boiling and stir until it dissolves. This should make the gravy thick and shiny looking.

Finally, pour the gravy over the chicken and serve.

A nice addition is pieces of fried bread. Just cut your bread into triangles, heat some olive oil in a frying pan until it's quite hot, put the pieces of bread in (it should start fizzling straight away, if not it isn't hot enough and the bread will colour in patches rather than evenly because it will absorb the oil in some bits and not in others). When the bread is browned on one side, turn it over, adding a little more oil to the pan. When both sides are browned, it's done. Serve this with the main dish.

You might want to serve a salad with a nice sharp vinaigrette to cut through the richness of this dish. Mashed potato would go nicely too.