Recipe video above. Coq au Vin is the well known French stew where chicken pieces are braised in a luscious, glossy red wine sauce with bacon, mushroom and onions. Like Beef Bourguignon, the beauty of this dish lies in its simplicity: remarkably few ingredients and simple process with results fit for a king – or queen! For the best results, start this 2 days before serving: 12 - 24 hour marinade for the chicken (essential), then rest the finished stew overnight to let the flavours develop even further (recommended but not essential).Recipe source: Another classic French recipe brought to you via Chef Jean-Baptiste Alexandre, our culinary collaborator for all things French. Because I like to do traditional recipes properly!
Keyword: coq au vin, french chicken stew, red wine stew
Servings: 4- 5
Author: Nagi | RecipeTin Eats
Red Wine Chicken Marinade:
4chicken thighs, bone-in, skin on (~220g / 7 oz each) (Note 1)
4chicken drumsticks(Note 1)
16pearl onions or picking onions(Note 2)
1bay leaf, fresh (dry also ok)
3thyme sprigs(sub 1 tsp dried thyme)
750 ml / 3 cupspinot noir red wine, or other dry red wine (Note 3)
3 - 4tbspvegetable oil(or canola oil)
3/4tspsalt(cooking/kosher salt, or 1/2 tsp table salt)
Coq au Vin Stew:
400g / 14ozwhite mushrooms, halved (quartered if large) (Note 4)
150g / 5ozbacon piece, (speck) cut into 1 x 2.5cm / 0.4 x 1" batons (Note 5)
Marinate chicken: Place the Chicken Marinade ingredients in a large glass or ceramic bowl or dish. Marinate overnight in the fridge (minimum 12 hours, maximum 24 hours).
Strain wine into a bowl. Reserve herbs and wine. Separate the chicken and onion.
Dry chicken: Spread chicken out on a try lined with paper towels, then pat dry with paper towels.
Reduce wine: Pour red wine into a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Simmer vigorously, skimming off any impurities that rise to the surface, until reduced by half. Set aside.
Brown chicken and vegetables:
Preheat oven to 180°C / 350°F (160°C fan).
Season chicken: Sprinkle chicken with 3/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper.
Brown chicken: Heat 3 tbsp oil in a large, heavy-based, oven-proof pot over medium-high heat. Add chicken thighs skin side down and cook for 2 - 3 minutes until nicely browned (it will be darker than usual because of the red wine). Flip thighs and cook the other side for another minute to kiss it with a little colour. Remove to a tray. Pull at skin of drumsticks to cover flesh as best as possible, then brown (I do 3 to 4 sides, ~5 minutes in total). Remove and set aside.
Fry bacon: Remove any loose black burnt bits. Add a bit of extra oil if needed, then cook bacon for 3 minutes until golden. Add to tray with chicken.
Sauté mushrooms: Add mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes, or until golden. Remove into a separate bowl.
Sauté onion: Add a bit of extra oil if needed, then cook onions for 5 minutes or until there are nice golden patches.
Butter and flour: Add butter into pot. Once melted, add garlic and cook for a further 1 minute. Add tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes. Add flour and cook for 2 minutes.
Add wine and stock: While stirring, slowly pour in beef stock – this helps the flour dissolve lump-free into the stock. Then add the reduced wine and mix until flour mixture is dissolved and mostly lump-free. (Note 8)
Add everything back in: Add chicken, bacon, mushroom, thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper into the pot, then stir.
Oven 45 minutes: Bring to a simmer, then cover and transfer to oven for 45 minutes. Chicken will be very tender - but not "falling apart". (Note 9)
Adjust salt: Remove from oven, taste sauce and add salt if needed.
Leave overnight (recommended, Note 11): If time permits, leave the stew overnight before serving because as with all stews, it gets better with time! Reheat gently on a low stove in a covered pot, ensuring that chicken is fully heated through. Add water if needed to loosen sauce.
Serve over mashed potato or tagliatelle, sprinkled with fresh parsley! For the ultimate experience, mop the plate clean with homemade brioche (surprisingly straight forward to make). See in post for side salad and dessert options.
1. Chicken pieces - Bone in, skin on pieces are best for the most tender, juicy results. Cutting up your own whole chicken would also be ideal. Keep the chicken breast whole with the skin on and bone in. Marinade and sear per recipe but only put it in the pot for the last 20 minutes in the oven (else it will overcook and dry out).2. Pearl onions are very small onions and are irritatingly hard to find in Australia. The closest are pickling onions which are slightly bigger, so just peel an extra layer or two off to make them the right size – around 2.5cm/1″ in diameter. Soak them for 10/15min in cold water, it will soften the skin and make them easier to peel (use a small knife to assist).You can also just use 2 brown or yellow onions, halved then cut into 1cm / 2/5” wedges.3. Pinot Noir is the traditional wine typically used in Coq au Vin, though you'll different wine regions showcase their local wines in this dish (sometimes even champagne!).Wine quality - Even though wine is the primary flavouring in this dish, there’s still no need to splurge on expensive wine. This is a myth of years gone by supported by reputable food authorities including the New York Times. ("the wonderful wines and the awful ones produced equally tasty food, especially if the wine was cooked for more than a few minutes.") The braising time and other flavours works wonders to transform even value wine - just rummage through the discount bins at your local liquor store. The bottle I used was a $15 one reduced to $6 (Dan Murphy's!).Cooking out alcohol - While the alcohol cooks out of the sauce due to the long cooking time, I am unsure whether (or how much) might be captured in the flesh of the chicken which is marinated in the red wine. Readers should use their judgement when deciding whether to serve this to children.4. Mushrooms - Swiss brown /cremini are also fine. White is more traditional and looks nicer because it stands out more against the dark brown sauce.5. Bacon - Using a block means you can cut into chunky batons which looks nicer in the finished dish. Using bacon slices is a substitute that works perfectly fine from a flavour perspective but you end up with more pieces in the sauce so it looks like there's more "bits" in it (very clunky explanation attempt there!!).Bacon is key for sauce seasoning, so don’t skip it!6. Beef stock is used in this dish which gives it the rich dark brown colour and deeper flavour. Doesn't taste beefy because you get so much flavour from the chicken juices. Chicken stock will work fine but the sauce colour won't be as deep, and flavour a little lighter.Beef stock quality is the key variable here that will set apart a good homemade Coq au Vin from an exceptional restaurant-quality one. Homemade beef stock trumps any store bought. Good quality store-bought from butchers etc. are far better than mass-produced (like Campbell’s here in Australia).Do not use powdered beef stock. It’s frankly inferior to even the packet liquid stock and has no place here amongst all this effort, I’m afraid!7. Salt - This dish gets plenty of salt from the bacon, so you don't need to add much.8. Flour lumps – Don’t fret if you have some lumps! They will dissolve during the slow cooking time 🙂9. Slow cook method – Oven is best because it’s entirely hands off, no need to stir to ensure base doesn’t catch (it's also kind of hard with big chicken pieces in pot). But it can also be done on a low stove, lid on, stirring every now and then.Slow cooker: This can work but you’ll need to reduce on the stove at the end to thicken sauce. Slow-cook for 6 hours on low, transfer to pot then simmer (no lid) for 15 – 20 minutes until sauce reduces. I really think it’s just easier to use the oven!10. How tender chicken should be - Takes 45 minutes to cook through fully and be tender but not "falling off the bone" which is an unusual preparation for chicken because the meat is naturally more tender than tough slow cooking cuts like chuck beef (used for Bourguignon), lamb shanks, beef ribs etc. 11. Leaving stew overnight - As with any stew, but particularly dishes like Coq au Vin and Beef Bourguignon where the sauce is made with a good amount of wine, it gets better if you leave the finished stew overnight because the flavours develop more and any residual wine flavour mellows out. Having said that, this is stellar freshly cooked as well!