If I could live anywhere else, I think it would have to be Provence. It is beautiful and breathtaking and hot and lovely. And it exudes elegance and apart from anything else, the food is just exquisite. Such rich flavours marred together with wonderful herbs (and ideally accompanied by delicious wine!), makes for spoiling indulgence, and who in their right mind doesn’t love that? Coq au Vin is one of those dishes that I just love. One of my favourite restaurants in London is La Poule au Pot, which does an excellent one, and if anything, the atmosphere of the small and typically French restaurant makes everything taste that little bit better! But when I decided to make it the other day, I had forgotten the name of the recommendation a friend gave me. I texted him and chuckled at his reply. “Simon Hopkinson does an excellent winey cock” he said – Ha, nice! Tee hee…
So, Simon Hopkinson was my man of choice, and off I went on my merry way to gather the ingredients. It is fun to make and quite honestly, it will make your house smell like heaven. And it’s not only only Christmas puds that can be set alight…this too locks in its flavour with the help of the generous dousing of cognac that is then set alight, whoooo!
It is really delicious served with any number of things. Typically, it would be steamed potatoes, or indeed mash. Or perhaps noodles, or cous cous. I served it with roughly mashed potatoes, with plenty of butter and parsley. But I also made some sourdough which gave this meal a peasant fodder feasty feel! This dish, with red wine a plenty and eaten on an otherwise dreary Sunday, was the perfetct way to forget that it was Monday the next day…On another occasion, we had it with roasted new potatoes and sweet potato with whole roasted, honey glazed carrots – YUM!
For the marinade..
1 litre good red wine (he suggests a Pinot Noir)
Some chicken stock
2 sticks celery, 2 carrots, 2 cloves of garlic and one onion – all roughly chopped
Some rosemary and thyme
1 tablespoon red current jelly
3 bay leaves
Salt and pepper
For the rest…
12 Chicken thighs
A bowl of flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
An onion, diced
Some mushrooms, sliced
For the marinade, add all the ingredients into a heavy bottomed pan or Le Creusset, and bring t the boil on a low heat. Gently simmer until the liquid has reduced by a third. Set aside to cool.
When the marinade is cool, pour over the chicken thighs (if they have skin on them, take it off as it will only go soggy..) Marinade for 3-5 hours, or preferably overnight.
The next day, take out the chicken thighs and dip each one into the flour so it is well coat. In a little olive oil, fry them untl they are browned on each side. Meanwhile, in some butter fry the chopped bacon, onion and mushrooms in the havy based Le Creusset. When these are done, add the chicken thighs on top and then pour over 2-3 tablespoons of the brandy. Now light it so that it burns off. Add the remaining marinade (with the carrots, onions and carrots discarded) and bring to the boil. Reduce to a gentle flame and cook for one hour. And there you have it! I hope you love it as much as I do…