January 27, 2014

An Ode to Julia

In sticking with our French theme lately, we decided to pair our French onion soup with a traditional coq au vin, a la Julia Child.  This dish has multiple components, and takes some time, but it's a hearty, delicious dish, perfect for these cold winter nights.

There are two components you can prepare in advance; the mushrooms and the pearl onions.  Let's start with the mushrooms.  Just saute your sliced mushrooms in some butter and oil.  They'll first absorb the liquids in the pan, and then release them.  Once they release the liquids and start to brown, you can season with salt and pepper.  Remove them from the heat, toss in some sliced green onions, and saute for a couple more minutes.  Then you can just set them aside while you prepare the rest of the meal.
Next, let's tackle the pearl onions.  Make sure you peel off the skins, and keep them whole.  Toss them into a hot pan with some melted butter and oil.  Roll them around every few minutes so they brown as evenly as possible.
While your onions are browning, you can make your satchel of herbs.  In a piece of cheesecloth, wrap up some parsley, thyme, and a bay leaf.  Wrap it up and tie it with some twine.
Once your onions have browned, you'll add in your liquids.  The recipe calls for stock or wine, but we decided to use a combination of the two.  We went with 1/4 cup beef stock and 1/4 cup red wine.  You'll also toss in you herb satchel, and season with salt and pepper.  Then just let them saute until the onions are tender and the liquid evaporates.   Once the liquid has evaporated and absorbed into the onions, you can set them aside.
Now, on to the main event!  Start by rendering down some sliced bacon in your dutch oven.  Once they've browned slightly, remove them from the pot and throw in your chickens to brown.
We opted to use chicken thighs this time around, but you can use whatever pieces you like.  Really let them settle into the bacon fat and get a nice, golden brown.
Once your chicken is browned on both sides, add your chicken back to the pot.  At this point, you can add some cognac and flame off the alcohol.  Since we didn't have any cognac on hand, we used some of the chocolate stout that we'd used in our French onion soup.
You'll also add in the red wine, enough stock to cover your chicken, a smidge of tomato paste, some garlic, a bay leaf, and a couple sprigs of thyme.  Then just cover your pot and let it simmer until your chickens are cooked through.  If you didn't cook your mushrooms and onions in advance, this is a great time to prepare them.
When your chickens have cooked through, remove them from the pot, and get ready to prepare your gravy.  Your chickens will look purplish since they've absorbed the wine, so don't be concerned when you pull them out.
You'll want to skim some of the fat off your liquid.  No one wants a greasy gravy!  You'll also want to fish out the bay leaf and sprigs of thyme.  Let this reduce down so you have a little more than 2 cups of liquid.  You'll also want to prepare a little gravy thickener.  In this case, it's 2 parts butter, 1 part flour.
Once your little slurry is combined and your sauce has reduced, whisk your butter-flour mixture into the braising liquids.  Let it simmer and thicken to your liking.
When you're just about ready to serve, add your chickens back into the pot, along with your mushrooms and onions.  Baste your chickens in the sauce for a few minutes so they heat through again.
We whipped up some mashed potatoes to go along with our chickens.  They were a great accompaniment to the chicken and the delicious gravy.
This is the type of hearty meal that warms you from the inside, perfect for these frigid days we've been having.

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