Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Coq au vin

Ingredients for coq au vin. This is half a cockerel, weighing 1.5 kg and costing €6.49 (€4.35/kg)
Everybody's heard of coq au vin. It's a classic of French cuisine. I usually make it once a year in the late autumn or early winter, when the supermarkets have coq découpé for sale. Genuine coqs, for genuine coq au vin, are only available at this time of year. The male chicks produced when breeding egg layers in the spring are allowed to grow to maturity, then killed a few weeks before Christmas, at about 9 months old. They are big and muscular (and no doubt full of raging testosterone which also affects the flavour of the meat). Their leg tendons are like rods of iron and their flesh dark and tasty. They need to be combined with robust flavours and cooked low and slow.

Blanch the little onions to make them easier to peel. These are yellow onions and the skins stain the water quite strongly (it makes a good yellow dye).
I use Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's recipe, which is a bit of a fiddle, but delicious. This recipe is for turkey legs, but is almost identical to the recipe in Meat that I used, except that it appears to have forgotten the mushrooms (which you sweat and add at the end). Our friend Ken does it slightly differently, marinating the meat overnight and no doubt equally delicious.

The onions being browned in butter and olive oil.
Check out the size of that drumstick!
Reheated and mushrooms added.
Plated up with mixed root vegetable mash.


  1. WOT?!? No greens?

    This looks delisch... and it is not the size of the drumstick that interests me, but the colour...
    now, that is dark meat...
    Wayne, you are spared for another few months...
    Easter, methinks.

  2. Tim: I don't think you will regret sparing Wayne a little while yet.

  3. The authentic, old-timey recipe called for making the sauce with red wine AND the blood of the chicken (as a taste, color, and thickening ingredient). I've never been able to do that. But years ago we had Coq au Vin at a restaurant called Chez René in Paris. The sauce was literally black, and the chicken pieces well cooked and tender — the best I've ever had.

  4. Ken: Ah, like a civet. You can reproduce the flavour and especially the texture by using the chopped liver of the bird and red wine if you don't have blood.

  5. looks very tasty. So many people seem to leave out the lardons or bacon, leaving which detracts from the finished taste.

  6. An extra 'leaving' somehow crept in there!

  7. Gaynor: Simon would not be happy if I left the lardons out of anything!

  8. I have hardly ever eaten "coq au vin" here, much less made it, although it is such a famous French dish. I have eaten a lot more "boeuf bourguignon." I wasn't aware of the limited supply of true "coq." Thanks for your information and great photos.

  9. Betty: I think one of the secrets of traditional French cooking is how much it depends on seasonality.

  10. I'm with Simon on the lardons question.