May 21 2007

Coq au Vin

Hmm, but what on earth is “Classic Coq au Vin”? Larousse Gastronomic dispatches it in one brief paragraph, Constance Spry doesn’t give it a mention and Hugh FW does it proud, of course. But I, as usual, return to my dog eared French Provincial Cooking held together with an elastic band (I couldn’t bear a new copy…!). Elisabeth David reiterates fiercely once more that however, apparently, simple this classic is, to get the balance right is a real skill; sauce just the right consistency and chicken perfectly cooked. Maybe this is why it has fallen from grace for too long; just too many nasty stringy chickens in thick pink goo…. But, oh, how delicious it is if you can get the balance right.

Cut a big free range chicken into four pieces. Warm three quarters of a bottle of red wine in a saucepan together with a crushed garlicherbs. Add a little really good home made chicken stock, please, not a stock cube for this one.In a heavy pan soften a handful of peeled button onions in the fat which gently flows from several chopped rashers of streaky bacon.brandy, set it alight and pour, flaming, over the chicken. Pour the wine and stock over the chicken as the brandy flames die down and simmer gently for about 40 minutes depending on the age of the chicken, so says E.D! When you are confident the cooking is almost complete add button mushrooms and simmer a further five minutes. Carefully remove chicken, onions, mushrooms onto a large serving dish and keep warm. Thicken the sauce with buerre manie, a table spoon of flour worked into a dessert spoon of butter to make a thickening liason. Stir gently for a couple of minutes till the sauce becomes thick and shiny and the flour cooked. Serve with salad and fried bread, oh so unfashionable, and oh, so wonderful! clove, a bay leaf and a pinch of dried Add the chicken pieces, brown those gently too. Fill a ladle with

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