When it comes to Coq au Vin, Chambertin is the Champagne of sparkling wine. Coq au Vin made with a good quality red Burgundy is good, but made with Chambertin it’s the real deal. Chambertin is a bit more intense than some of its other Burgundy cousins and with bacon and onions makes for a rich and heavenly sauce. In this version the chicken marinates in the wine overnight, tenderizing it and allowing it to absorb more of the wine flavors. It also gives it a great reddish tinge. I used a Bresse chicken from France, but any larger good quality chicken will work. Serve with potatoes or noodles and don’t forget the crusty bread to sop up the scrumptious sauce.
Based on the recipe Coq au Chambertin in Recettes de tradition by Françoise Bernard
1 bottle Chambertin or other good quality Burgundy wine
2 T olive oil
1 carrot, sliced
1 onion, cut in half and sliced
2 shallots, coarsely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed with the broad side of a chef’s knife
Bouquet garni – tie into cheese cloth 1 bay leaf, a sprig of thyme, 2-3 sprigs of parsley, 1 clove and 2 whole black peppercorns
4 oz salt pork, cut in ¼ inch chunks
Oil for browning chicken and vegetables
1 T flour
1 cup cognac
1 cup water
1 T tomato paste
1 T butter or olive oil
½ lb mushrooms
Minced parsley for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste
Preparing the Marinade
The night before combine the ingredients for the marinade with the chicken pieces in a bowl small enough so that the pieces are completely submerged. You may want to weight them down with a small plate. Refrigerate until you are ready to cook the next day.
Cooking the Chicken
Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and set aside. Strain the vegetables and bouquet garni from the liquid, saving both the solids and the liquid.
Preheat the oven to 325° if you want to finish it in the oven rather than on the stove top.
Place the salt pork in a small sauce pan with a generous amount of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes to remove some of the saltiness from the pork. Drain and set the pork pieces on a paper towel to remove as much excess moisture as possible.
Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the salt pork. Reduce heat to medium and sauté the pieces until golden brown and the fat has been rendered, about 5-7 minutes. Stir frequently as salt pork can easily burn. Remove the pork with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate leaving as much fat as possible in the pan. Add a little more oil to the pan if needed to brown the chicken.
Increase heat to medium-high and add the chicken pieces in batches. Brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove to a platter and set aside. Add the vegetables from the marinade (not the bouquet garni) and sauté unit the onion softens, about 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour and stir to blend the flour into the fat.
Return the chicken pieces to the pan and add the cognac. Stir to combine and light with a match. Carefully stir a little to burn off some of the alcohol. Douse the fire with the marinade and the cup of water. Return the bouquet garni to the pot and add the tomato paste and salt and pepper to taste. Be careful with the salt as there is still some residual salt from the salt pork. Stir to combine. Simmer covered over a low flame (or place in the oven) for an hour or so until the chicken is tender.
While the chicken is cooking, heat the butter or oil in a skillet over medium-heat. Add the mushroom and sauté until they have released their water, the liquid has evaporated and they begin to absorb the fat, about 3-5 minutes. Set aside.
When the chicken is cooked, remove the chicken pieces to a platter and discard the bouquet garni. Add the mushrooms and reduce the resulting sauce over medium heat until you have a saucy but not too watery sauce. Correct the seasoning. Serve the sauce with the chicken and garnish with minced parsley.
Note: This dish tastes great the next day. Consider cooking the chicken a day ahead and refrigerate overnight. On the day you plan to serve, reheat, cook the mushroom and reduce the sauce.