Healthy Coq au Vin
Classic recipes for coq au vin call for lardons (diced fatty bacon), red wine and a stewing chicken that cooks all day. Using only a little rendered bacon fat, a fruity white wine and skinless chicken breasts, this version is ready in just a couple hours and is much lower in fat. The addition of a bit of flour, a traditional French technique, gives the sauce the right body. Accompany the dish with a crusty baguette for soaking up the sauce.
- 16 pearl onions, about 1/2 lb.
- 1/2 lemon
- 6 baby artichokes
- 2 preservative-free bacon slices
- 4 skinless chicken breast halves, each about 5 oz.
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- 1/2 lb. cremini mushrooms, brushed clean, stemmed and caps cut into slices 1/2 inch thick
- 1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups fruity dry white wine such as Pinot Gris or White Burgundy
- 1 1/2 cups low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt, or more, to taste
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish
Bring a saucepan three-fourths full of water to a boil. Add the onions, return to a boil and boil for about 2 minutes. Drain, plunge into cold water to cool, then cut off the root ends, and the stem ends, if you like. Slip off the skins and cut a shallow cross in the root end (this prevents the onions from “telescoping” during cooking). Set the onions aside.
Squeeze the juice from the lemon half into a saucepan three-fourths full of water. Working with 1 artichoke at a time, and using a sharp knife, slice off the top half or so of the leaves. Starting at the base, pull off and discard the tough outer leaves. Then pull off the outside leaves until you reach the pale green inner leaves. Remove the tough outside flesh from the stem and drop the artichoke into the saucepan.
When all of the artichokes are trimmed and in the pan, bring the water to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium. Cook gently, uncovered, until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain well. When the artichokes are cool enough to handle, use a small sharp knife to cut off all the leaves, reserving them for another use. With a spoon, scoop out any prickly choke to expose the heart. Cut the hearts in half lengthwise and set aside.
In a large Dutch oven or other deep, heavy pot over medium heat, fry the bacon until it is crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain and reserve for another use. Reserve 1 Tbs. of the rendered fat in the pan, discarding the rest.
Return the pot to medium heat, add the chicken breasts and sear on all sides until lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
Raise the heat to medium-high, add the shallot, pearl onions and mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms release their liquid and the onions have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and stir for 1 minute. Stir in 1/2 cup of the wine, reduce the heat to medium and, using a wooden spoon, scrape up all the browned bits from the pot bottom.
Return the chicken to the pot and pour in the remaining 1 cup wine and the broth. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the chicken is very tender, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Add the artichokes to the pot and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Season with the salt and pepper. Remove from the heat, garnish with parsley and serve. Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Healthful Cooking, by Mary Abbott Hess, Dana Jacobi & Marie Simmons (Oxmoor House, 2003).