Coq au Vin (French Fricassee of Rooster)

I think its safe to say that we’ve all heard of coq au vin. This is a classic French dish with two big players: chicken and red wine. Well, a correction to that: not just any kind of chicken, but when properly translated, rooster and red wine.

Coq au Vin

This dish isn’t a quicky–like any other stew, it requires slow cooking and a tough protein that will stand up well to slow cooking. Just like how you wouldn’t make a beef stew from filet mignon (and if you do, please don’t tell me), coq au vin should not be made from an everyday, tender chicken. You want a tough bird that will release a ton of flavor (which is what will give the sauce an incredible flavor) and maintain its form after long periods of cooking, so this is why you would opt for something like a rooster or stewing hen if you have the option (plus, they’re typically cheaper–bonus!). Is it the end of the world if you have to use a normal chicken? Of course not!

Anyways, rooster/chicken discussion aside, the dish is actually pretty simple to prepare. Like most braises, the general procedure is: brown the meat, cook some vegetables, add liquid, return meat to pot, and simmer until tender. The ingredient list is pretty simple, so opt for flavorful components where you can (e.g. wine is obviously a big player, so don’t use junk. A full-bodied, French red would be ideal. Don’t break the bank, but don’t opt for some $2 crap, either).

The end result will be a surprisingly rich, full-bodied, winter-appropriate dish where the final product is far greater than the sum of its parts. The chicken is tender, intriguingly stained with an almost crimson/maroon color, and the sauce is heavy, thick, and ready to punch you in the face it has such a distinct and steadfast flavor. I served mine over a bed of buttered egg noodles and haricots verts–you want a side for sopping up all of that sauce!

This recipe comes from Anthony Bourdain.

  • 1 bottle + 1 cup red wine
  • 6 shallots
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery rib
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 Tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 bouquet garni (thyme, rosemary, parsely, Bay leaves)
  • 1 whole rooster, about 3.5 lbs (gizzards, wing tips, and neckbone removed)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1/4 lb bacon
  • 1/2 Ib cremini mushrooms
  • 2 Tbsp butter

Marinate the rooster

The first step begins a day ahead of when you intend to cook. Begin by cleaning your rooster (e.g. trimming off wing tips, the neck, gizzards, ensuring all feathers are out, etc). Then, its time to marinate the rooster. Dice 2 shallots as well as the carrot and celery. Mix those with the bottle of red wine, bouquet garni, cloves, and peppercorns in a large bowl. Submerge the bird in this mixture (and if it isn’t totally submerged, turn it over once or twice during the marination), cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

Brown the dried, marinated bird on all sides

On the next day, remove the rooster from the marinade and pat it dry. Strain the marinade, reserving both the liquid and solids separately (although you can discard the whole spices).

Season the bird (inside and out) with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven, heat up the oil and butter over medium-high heat. Brown the bird (still all in one piece) on all sides for roughly 2-3 minutes per side. Set the browned rooster aside.

Brown the vegetables from the marinade and then add a touch of flour

Add the vegetables you reserved from the marinade to the pan, cooking until they brown lightly. This should take around 10 minutes. Stir in the flour, doing your best to coat the vegetables, cooking for a minute further.

Then, add the reserved marinade (bouquet garni included), scraping any brown bits off the bottom of the pan, and raise the heat to a boil.

Return the rooster to the pot, cover loosely, and drop the heat to a simmer. Stew the bird for a minimum of 1 hour and 15 minutes. If you have a rooster (or stewing hen, or any chicken that’s going to be tougher than what you typically find in the grocery store), you will probably require more stewing time to ensure a tender bird–for me, that was a bit over 2 hours.

When the bird is almost done cooking, dice the mushrooms and remaining shallots. Cook the bacon in a separate pan until golden brown and set aside, reserving the grease. Sauté the mushrooms with a dash of salt in this for about 5 minutes, at which point, you should then add the shallots and continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes further. Deglaze the pan with the remaining 1 cup of wine, scraping any brown bits, and allowing the liquid to mostly cook off. Crumble the bacon bits into the pan.

With all the components done cooking, you should now set the cooked bird aside on whatever platter you intend to serve it on. For me, this was a plate with buttered noodles and lightly cooked haricots verts (green beans). Strain the cooking liquid and discard any solids–the liquid that remains is your sauce. Swirl in the 2 Tbsp of butter to enrich it and pour this over the bird along with the mushroom mixture. Enjoy!

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5 Responses to “Coq au Vin (French Fricassee of Rooster)”

  1. bellini valli Says:

    Welcome to 2010 Mike. Looks like Mike’s Table is starting the New year off right!!

  2. Jan Says:

    This looks delish Mike and I love the look of those vegetables!
    Happy 2010 to you and your family x

  3. Bren Says:

    Happy New Year, Mike! Coq Au Vin is a classic, and it’s so nice to know that Cuban food is deeply rooted in French classics! We have a fricasse also which is one of my staple dishes! :) Your rooster looks well done!

  4. Karine Says:

    Great job with your coq au vin! It looks delicious :)

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