Coq au Vin with a Twist

This is a simplified version of my original coq au vin recipe. Here only the chicken is marinated in red wine. It’s also a bit of a twist as I added fennel and leeks along with the carrots, onions, and garlic. You could also add diced celery if you are so inclined.

Also, on this particular day the bacon I had planned on using was frozen. However, the duck fat was not so I used it instead. If you have neither bacon nor duck fat just use olive oil and maybe a tablespoon of butter as well. 

To prevent the vegetables from being overcooked, after they are sautéed I removed them from the pot to be added back later. The mushrooms are also cooked separately and added later with the other vegetables.

1 (3 to 4-pound) chicken, cut into 8ths or 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1/2 bottle (375 ml) good dry red wine such as Burgundy
2 – 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons duck fat or good olive oil
4 ounces good bacon or pancetta, diced (optional)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound carrots, cut diagonally in 1-inch pieces
1 medium yellow onion, 1/2-inch dice
1 leek, cleaned and 1/2-inch slice
1 medium fennel bulb, 1/2-inch dice
2 celery stalks, cut diagonally in 1-inch pieces (optional)
2 – 3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup Cognac or good brandy
1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
5 fresh thyme sprigs or 2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, stems removed and quartered
1/2 pound frozen small whole onions

A day ahead place the pieces of chicken in a ziploc bag and pour in the wine. Seal the bag, set it in a bowl (just in case the bag leaks) and let the chicken marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

About an hour before cooking remove the chicken from the refrigerator. When ready to proceed preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. In a small bowl thoroughly mix 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with the flour; set aside.

Heat the duck fat or olive oil in a large Dutch oven. If using, add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, or until browned. Using a slotted spoon remove the bacon to a bowl and set aside.

Meanwhile, lay the pieces of chicken on paper toweling and pat dry. Liberally sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. In the pot in which the bacon was cooked add the chicken in a single layer (skin side down) and cook for 5 – 10 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Remove the pieces to a plate and continue to cook the remaining chicken until all is browned. Set aside.

To the same pot add the carrots, onions, leek, fennel, celery (if using), 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the vegetables are lightly browned. Using a slotted spoon remove the vegetables to a bowl and reserve. Add a 1/2 tablespoon of butter to the pan and sauté the mushrooms; remove them as well to the bowl with the other vegetables.

Add the garlic and cook for a minute or so, then add the herbs and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Add the Cognac and reduce by a third. Add the chicken and any juices that collected on the plate; add the wine and chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place in the oven for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes remove the pot from the oven and stir in the butter/flour mixture, reserved vegetables including the mushrooms, along with the pearl onions. Return the pot to the oven for another 10 – 15 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink and the carrots are just cooked though.  Season to taste and ladle into bowls. Sprinkle with reserved bacon and serve as soon as possible with thick slices of crusty baguette.

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