Coq au vin – sort of

I was talking with a friend last week about the coq au vin that we served at the restaurant I last worked at, in part because I made it for dinner for us at home last week. 

Amazingly it was at home that I first had the dish, despite making hundreds if not thousands of orders for it. 

So here’s the e-mail I just sent my friend with the recipe.  It’s a good dish, and so long as you have everything done in advance, it’s perfect for a dinner party, even for fussy eaters – after all, who doesn’t like chicken?

For the brine:

  • 1 Quart chicken stock (brown for red brine or white for white brine)
  • About the same amount of either red or white wine, depending if you want a red or white brine
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • Sachet ingredients, just tossed in
  • About half a cup of either red or white wine vinegar (or champagne), depending again on the color of brine you want
  • A tbsp or two of honey

Bring everything to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes, strain then add about 2-3 quarts of ice to chill.  Add your chicken breasts – do airline the breast and french the bone – (you can also add thighs) and brine for at least 24 hours.

 For the Chicken Jus:

Make brown chicken stock with at least 4 chicken carcasses.  I make mine overnight at this point, it’s easier that way.

 The next day, strain your stock, and start reducing with sachet ingredients once again and a cup or two of wine (red usually but I used white, you can also add a little port which we did at the restaurant).  At the restaurant we would also add new roasted chicken carcasses, but at home you don’t really need to.

Reduce away, usually takes several hours and yields anywhere from a cup to close to a quart, depending on how good a stock you made.  You want the jus to be nappe.  Season at the end with salt – no need for pepper since you had peppercorn already in there.  Oh, and I don’t need to mention to strain the shit out of this stuff.  Usually I’ll move it to a smaller pot at some point and strain at that time, then strain at the end.  You’ll have to skim occasionally for impurities and grease as well.

For the veg:

  • Garlic confit (3-4 cloves per portion seems to work)
  • Fingerling potatoes – halved lengthwise then blanched in water, salt, thyme, peppercorn, shallot scraps and parsley
  • Haricot verts or wax beans – blanched naturally
  • Carrots cut into obliques – blanched
  • Peas if you want
  • Pearl onions – cut off the ends then roast at 350 in oil, S&P for 10 minutes, peel when cooled
  • Really anything you want to be honest, just use seasonal ingredients.
  • Lardons – brown in advance to have it ready since these can take some time

To prepare the vegetables – heat a pan, add veg oil and some butter, then place the potatoes cut side down (usually about 3-4 per order depending on size) and toss in a small handful of lardons.  Get the potatoes nice and crispy, then add whatever else you want in there, just put the green stuff in at the end to just heat through as it will turn color on you.

For the chicken breasts (and thighs if you choose):

Pat dry and season on both sides and sear on med-high heat in a cast iron skillet skin side down, flip once golden brown and then toss in a 500 degree oven until done.  For some reason at home my skin wasn’t crispy enough at the end so I just turned the broiler on to crisp up the skin.

To serve:

Place the potatoes strategically in the middle of the plate so that they hold in all the other veg.  If you chose to use the chicken thigh, use this as a pedestal to place the breast on top of.  Spoon some of the jus over top the chicken and enjoy.

Another variation is to confit chicken legs, then shred that and toss it in with the veg while it’s heating up.

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