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Les Halles experiment – Coq au vin

Posted by Jeanne on January 24, 2010

Have I previously mentioned my borderline-creepy obsession with Anthony Bourdain?  Oh yes, there it is.

My fabulous friend Erika shares my obsession, so she sent me a copy of Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook for Christmas.  More French food!  Plus Bourdain!  I win.  Last night was my first time cooking from it, and also the first time experimenting with my sister’s much more kick-ass camera that she lent me.  This seems to have convinced Curt that our camera does, in fact, suck and that we need to try and get a new one as soon as we can afford it.  Which will be in 2012, but whatever – at least it is on the agenda now.

Coq au vin, inspired by Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook, Bloomsbury, 2004


1 bottle/1 liter plus 1 cup of red wine

1 onion, diced

1 carrot, cut into 0.25 inch slices

1 rib of celery, cut into 0.5 inch slices

4 whole cloves (just cloves.  Not cloves of garlic, as I first read it.)

1 TB black peppercorns, whole

2 bay leaves, 1 tsp thyme leaves (or two to 3 whole sprigs), and 3 sprigs parsley (called a bouquet garni, these are to be tied in a bundle or in some cheesecloth so they can be easily fished out of the finished dish.  I didn’t have any parsley, so I just tossed in the bay leaves and thyme.)

1 whole chicken, about 3.5 lb, giblets and neckbone removed (he says to remove the wing tips as well.  I completely forgot to do that part.)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 TB olive oil

6 TB butter, at room temperature

1 TB flour

0.25 lb slab or country bacon (I used thick-sliced regular bacon from the co-op)

0.5 lb small button mushrooms (all I had were cremini so I used those instead)

12 pearl onions, peeled (I used half a bag of frozen.  I know, I suck.)

Pinch of sugar

Day One:

The day before beginning to cook, combine the bottle of red wine, the diced onion, sliced carrot, celery, cloves, peppercorns, and bouquet garni in a large bowl.  Add the chicken and submerge it in the liquid (our chicken was too big to submerge, so I flipped it halfway through). Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.

Day Two:

Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat it dry. DO NOT DISCARD MARINADE.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside.  Warning – a raw chicken that has been soaked in red wine for 18 to 24 hours will look bloated and purple – sort of like a drowning victim.

Yes, this is true to color.

In a large dutch oven, heat the oil and 2 TB of the butter at a very high medium-high until almost smoking.  Sear the chicken, turning with tongs to evenly brown the skin.  Once browned, remove it from the pot and set it aside again.

While the chicken sears, strain the marinade, reserving the liquids and solids separately.  After the chicken is removed from the pan, add the reserved solids to the pot and cook over medium-high heat until softened and browned a bit.

Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and mix well until the vegetables are coated.  Stir in the reserved strained marinade.  Add the chicken back to the pot, and cook for about an hour to an hour and a half over medium-low heat.

While your chicken cooks, cook the bacon in a small saute pan over medium heat until golden brown and pretty.  Remove the bacon from the pan and drain on paper towels, reserving about 1 TB of the bacon fat in the saute pan.

Hello bacon, my old friend - I've come to talk to you again...

Saute the mushrooms in the reserved fat until golden brown, and set aside.

Do not figure you can wait until the chicken has been cooking half an hour before beginning this next step.  It takes for damn ever.  In a small saucepan, combine the pearl onions, pinch of sugar, a pinch of salt, and 2 TB of the butter.

Add just enough water to cover the onions, then cover the pan (the book suggests trimmed parchment, or foil if you must.  I used the lid to the pan.)  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until the water has evaporated.  Keep a close eye on them – remove the cover and continue to cook until the onions are golden brown.

Set the onions aside and add the remaining cup of red wine to the hot pan, scraping up the little bits stuck to the bottom of the pan (called the fond).  Season with salt and pepper and reduce over medium-high heat until thick enough to coat the back of the spoon.  (Because I didn’t get the onions cooked all the way down, our sauce was nowhere near as thick as it should have been.  You’ll see in the final pictures.)

When the chicken is cooked through – tender and the juice from the thigh running tender when you cut into it – carefully remove from the liquid.  Cut the chicken into quarters and arrange in a deep serving platter or bowl.  Strain the cooking liquid into the reduced red wine and discard the solids.  Add the bacon, mushrooms, and onions into the wine mixture, season with salt and pepper, and add the last 2 TB of butter.

Stir to combine and warm the bacon, mushrooms and onions.  Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve with some buttered noodles or roasted or mashed potatoes – something to soak up all the winey goodness.

Rustic French dishes look a hot mess in photos.  Also, there shouldn’t be anywhere near that much sauce – see above re: did not reduce enough.  Oh well.

We also had some brussels sprouts that had been roasted in bacon fat.  The whole thing was awesome, especially with a bunch more red wine.

I’m so glad we have a dishwasher – this is about half of the mess we made.  All in the name of good foods!


One Response to “Les Halles experiment – Coq au vin”

  1. erik said

    Good Coq au vin, looks fantastic. I make mine with shitakes and some lemon zest as well: The reduction is just superb that way. of course, with shitake and 2 bottles of red and a whole chicken, you’re looking at almost $40 for dinner 🙂

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