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Classic Coq au Vin

Coq au Vin
This Burgundian classic of chicken simmered in red wine naturally pairs with the wine you use in the cooking. Dependable: Pinot Noir from just about anywhere. Daring: a well-aged Cabernet Sauvignon.

Ingredients:

  • 2 small chickens, each 2 to 2 1/2 lb.
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
  • 6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 4 Tbs. olive oil
  • 3 Tbs. brandy, warmed
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 24 fresh cremini or white button mushrooms,
      brushed clean and stem ends trimmed
  • 16 pearl onions
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 3 to 4 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions:

Working with 1 chicken at a time, lay the bird, breast side down, on a work surface. Using poultry shears, cut along both sides of the backbone. Remove the backbone and cut the chicken into quarters. Rinse and pat dry. Spread the flour on a plate and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Dip the chicken pieces in the seasoned flour, shaking off the excess. Set aside.

In a large fry pan over high heat, warm 2 Tbs. each of the butter and olive oil. Working in batches, add the chicken pieces and brown on all sides, about 15 minutes. As the pieces are browned, transfer them to a heavy pot. When all the pieces have been browned, pour the brandy over them and ignite with a long match. Let the flame die out, then add the wine, garlic, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer until the chicken pieces are opaque throughout, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a sauté pan over high heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the butter and the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil. Add the mushrooms and sauté until golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate and rinse out the pan.

Bring a saucepan three-fourths full of water to a boil over high heat. Add the pearl onions and boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain, cut off the root ends and slip off the skins. Cut a shallow X in the root ends. Return the onions to the saucepan, add water just to cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover partially and cook until tender but firm, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain well. In the rinsed sauté pan over high heat, warm the remaining 2 Tbs. butter. Add the onions and sugar and sauté until lightly caramelized, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

About 10 minutes before the chicken is done, add the mushrooms and onions to the pot and continue cooking as directed. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Transfer to a warmed platter, sprinkle with the parsley and serve.
Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Food & Wine Pairing, by Joyce Goldstein (Time-Life Books, 1999).