Maybe it’s the cooler weather. Maybe it’s the fact that chicken legs are $0.79/lb. Whatever the reason, coq au vin seemed like a good idea. But spending a full day making it did not.
Traditional coq au vin uses a rooster or aging chicken. Today, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a rooster unless you live on a farm. And there’s no need to mask the taste of rotting meat. Instead, you can use whatever cut of chicken is available to you, be it a whole chicken cut into parts, thighs or just the legs, like I chose here. It doesn’t even have to be red wine. Riesling is quite popular too. Basically if you have poultry and wine, you have “coq au vin” – but how you prepare it can vary greatly.
Almost every recipe uses bacon or pancetta, but some cook the bacon separately. (Why anyone would not want to brown the chicken in that flavorful fat I have no idea.) Most versions also call for the time-consuming process of browning onions and adding them to the chicken along with button mushrooms. My version simplifies these steps without sacrificing the flavor.
The last variables are the addition of tomato paste or carrots found in more recent takes on the dish. It’s up to you whether you want to add some sweetness to cut the rich flavors. I prefer to let the wine and butter come through and didn’t need anything to thicken the sauce. Plus, fewer ingredients means less work. In fact, I even added the egg noodles to the braising pan for a completely satisfying almost one-pot meal. And it tastes even better the next day, if you manage to have any leftovers.
Wine-Braised Chicken Legs (Updated Coq Au Vin)
Serves 4 or 2 with leftovers.
6 slices of thick cut bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3-4 lbs of chicken legs
1/4 cup of brandy
2 cups of red wine, preferably a young Burgundy
2 cups of beef broth
4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
16 oz of mushrooms (1 package)
10 pearl onions
2 tbsps of butter
12 oz package of egg noodles
Freshly ground pepper
Brown the bacon for about 8 minutes over medium high in a deep pot large enough to hold the chicken.
Turn the heat to medium high. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper and then brown for about 12 minutes, flipping once. (You may need to do this in 2 batches).
In the meantime, make the onions and mushrooms. I decided to peel the onions first and then boil them in salted water for 3 minutes.
Some recipes let you boil and then peel- whatever is easiest for you. Let the onions cool, while you cut the mushrooms into quarters unless they are very small. In a small saute pan, melt the butter over low heat, then add the mushrooms. Cut the onions into halves and add those to the mushrooms. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme. Cook for 10 minutes over low.
If making egg noodles, you can boil them separately and place the chicken and sauce on top or … remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Add the noodles to the sauce.Cook over medium from 10 minutes or until noodles are cooked.
To drink: whatever wine you used to cook with is the obvious and best choice. Or you can opt for one of the new aged craft beers that act more like wine. If you want a cocktail, I would suggest a classic gin martini with olives, which goes with almost anything.