Buongiorno, bonjour and “g’day”! (don't you like how they're all the same thing? ~ who knew Australian vernacular was so cosmopolitan???).

Also, "a good day to you, sir/maam" for our American pals, "Ni Hao" to China, and "Здравствуй" to our Russian comrades, "etcetera etcetera and so forth"... (for Yul Brynner).

It’s your old pal Kit (Christof) Fennessy here. I've been writing this blog with your help for ten years, and there's over a hundred and fifty recipes, restaurant reviews of Australia and around the world, and general gourmet articles in these pages for you to fritter away your idle hours on.

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Now, what's on the bill of fare today?

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Authentic Coq Au Vin Recipe

L’accent sur le coq, évidemment.

Bonjour mes petits cornichons. Comment allez vous? Malade de l’hiver? Vous avez les “blues”? Geler les fesses hors ? Sur le point d’ouvrir une veine à l’idée d’une journée grise plus pluvieuse à Melbourne ?

Jamais peur. Le Tour de France est ici! Et pour fêter cela, ainsi que de la fête nationale en France (14 juillet), je partage avec vous - oh, mon seul moelleux - un plat pour vous engraisser contre les vents d’hiver et vous laissant sourire jusqu’aux oreilles.

(I don’t expect you to know any French for this blog, but it’s fun, n’est pas? – click read more for the translation and le recipe!!)
Le Translation:

“Emphasis on the coq, obviously.
Hello my little cornichons.  How are you?  Sick of winter?  Got the blues?  Freezing your bum off? About to open a vein at the thought of one more rainy grey day in Melbourne?
Never fear. Le Tour de France is here! And to celebrate this, as well as Bastille Day in France (July 14), I share with you - oh my fluffy one - a dish to fatten you up against winter's winds and leaving you grinning from ear to ear.”

Bonjour again.  Ah, I love the French.  Their wine, their cheeses, the beautiful women, the clever men, the long lunches, the markets, the night life, the restaurants, even the sports they follow are kind of suave.

Quick, get me a Gitane and my beret!

Here in Australia, as you’ll no doubt know, it is winter.  The bad bit.  We’re a few weeks past the winter solstice, but that’s no guarantee about the weather.  Cold, raining, and miserable generally, I’ve found myself drawn to warm and fatty foods to stave off the wintry wilds, while my feet are cold and I develop “les sniffles”.

But the joys of eating rich foods more than make up for the suffering.  Imagine trying to enjoy a casserole on a forty three degree day?  Forget it.  You can slim down in Spring, let it all hang out, baby.  Get yourself some wine, flick on the telly and Le Tour, and tuck into this little number; an absolute show stopper!

This recipe is simplicity itself, like all good dishes, once on the stove and underway involves little to no further work.  The meal can be served simply with crusty bread to mop up the gravy – though here I included green beans and pasta for a bit of alive food and carb balance.

Kit’s Coq au Vin

Les Ingrédients

You will need:
  • One chicken (le coq): I think using a whole chicken is more authentically rustic, but you might just like to buy thigh fillets with the skin on to avoid any bone issues.
  • A bottle of wine (vin): traditionally, you’d use red wine (vin rouge), a pinot noir or light wine like a Beaujolais, but in this case I used a cheeky and cheap French sauvignon blanc (vin blanc) that hit exactly the right note.  You only need a cup and a half (350 ml); but I advise that you get a bottle and enjoy with dinner or while cooking.
  • Chicken stock: I usually make my own stock in winter, especially if I feel a cold coming on, for soups and its medicinal properties.  You can always buy the stuff in the container; you’ll only need a cup and a half.
  • Bacon: 3-4 middle rashers.  I used hickory smoked middle bacon, but if you were being a real pain and arguing for true authenticity, you’d probably use speck.
  • Eschallots: 10-12 small ones.  These are little onions, and the vital ingredient… besides the coq… and the vin… which are covered above.  Peel them with a little paring knife, leaving the top knot on.  If some of them are a bit big, cut them in half through the top knot to keep the halves together.
  • Button mushrooms: a dozen or so.  My wife refuses to eat “shrooms”, so in this instance I used carrots and celery – a kind of mirepoix combination – to give the dish some depth… and vegetable content.
  • Flour – 2 tbs
  • Olive oil
  • A casserole dish
  • Three bay leaves (those “magic – what the hell do these do anyway?” style herbs)
  • A couple of sprigs of thyme; or some oregano or tarragon if you don’t have any thyme handy.

La Méthode

  1. Cut the chicken into pieces using kitchen shears, and your big knife to cut the breast into pieces.
  2. Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in the casserole dish. Fry the chicken pieces in batches, about four minutes on each side to brown up the skin and give them some colour.  Remove chicken and put aside.
  3. In the oil, fry up the skinned eschallots with the sliced up bacon pieces until the bacon starts to crisp and the onions turn a nice golden colour.
  4. Add your mushrooms (or celery and carrot), and cook until coloured / soft.
  5. Add your two tablespoons of flour and fry off with the vegetables and bacon for one or two minutes.
  6. And the wine, and deglaze the bottom of the pan, making sure you remove any sticky bits with your wooden spoon (to make washing up easier, but also because these burnt bits add colour and flavour to the sauce).  Bring to the boil.
  7. Add chicken pieces, stock and herbs.  Bring to a gentle simmer, partially cover (the lid slightly off, letting a bit of steam out) and cook for about an hour and a half, stirring occassionally, until the sauce begins to thicken and the chicken is tender.

Oh la la.  If this doesn’t win you the love, adulation and general respect of your family and friends, you can always crack another bottle of wine and light up another ciggie from the pack of Gitanes (that I noticed you have not been sharing, hem hem) in front of le Tour sur le television.