Coq au Vin (Chicken in red wine) is a traditional French meal that can be prepared in many ways. I have experimented with my recipe over the years to improve it and to also make it easy to cook if you are in a hurry. The ideal method is to actually prepare well in advance and let the casserole slow cook as the flavours are best absorbed and the meat becomes succulently tender. The Coq au vin is best served with Jersey new potatoes and petits pois.

Ingredients to serve 6 people

  • 100ml pure virgin olive oil
  • 100g unsalted butter
  •  6 skinless & filleted chicken breasts
  • 4 garlic cloves peeled & crushed
  • 250g shallots peeled
  • 250g mushrooms sliced
  • 1/2 cup cooking brandy (optional)
  • 750ml red wine
  • 1000ml water
  • 2 chicken stock cubes
  • 2 chicken ready stock
  • 125g tomato purée
  • Bouquet garni
  • 10ml Worcestershire sauce
  • 250g smoked bacon cubed
  • 50g Corn Flour
  • Salt & black pepper (depending on preference)

Method

  1. Add 50ml of olive oil and 50g of butter into a very large casserole dish, personally I swear by my 15 year old Le Creuset casserole. Bring oil & butter to melting point and add crushed garlic.
  2. Add the chicken breasts and cook on each side, turning regularly until  they are a light brown in colour (about 5 minutes each side).
  3. Depending on your preferences you can cover the chicken with the cooking brandy & using a long taper ignite it - Caution - you need to hold the casserole with oven gloves & do this away from the cooker/low ceilings as the flames can go high - shake the casserole dish after ignition.
  4. Add the bacon pieces and cooking for another 3 minutes stirring with a slotted spoon.
  5. Add the red wine (quality is not too important but go for a strong colour) and turn to a medium heat.
  6. Make 1 litre of stock with boiling water, 2 chicken stock cubes, Worcester sauce (optional) and if possible 2 x 12.5g containers of pure chicken stock which is available in many supermarkets and add to the casserole.
  7. Add the bouquet garni, tomato purée, salt & pepper & wait until the casserole is bubbling, then transfer to an oven pre-heated to about 140 degrees. The ideal cooking time is about 3 hours at this temperature but higher temperature & shorter time is possible if you are in a hurry.
  8. The shallots are the fiddly part as if you buy them on the vegetable aisle they do take a long time to peel & are quite strong. I have recently found frozen ready-peeled shallots which doesn't change the taste and does make it a lot easier. Par boil the shallots in boiling water and add them to the casserole two hours into the cooking time.
  9. The sliced mushrooms can be cooked in the remaining oil & butter at anytime as they are added at the end.
  10. After the 3 hours cooking time remove the casserole from the oven & put back onto a high heat on the hob. Dissolve 50g of corn flour slowly adding cold water until it changes from a paste into a liquid. Slowly add the liquid stirring continuously all the time. This will thicken the casserole. Add the mushrooms, stir & garnish with parsley.

As they say in France - Bon appetit!