Like most people, I would imagine, the way I cook during the week is dramatically different from the way I cook during the weekend.
During-the-week Callie finds the prospect of feeding herself three times a day, five days in a row, unspeakably daunting, hence the collection of Tender Greens takeout bags I’m amassing (which has become quite impressive or quite shameful, depending on how you look at it).
During-the-weekend Callie is a different story. Give her all the weird ingredients, fussy techniques, and 3 hour plus cooking times. Seriously, the longer in the kitchen, the better.
This type of cooking means I rarely get my laundry done on Sunday nights, as planned, but my mental state is significantly improved.
So for Valentine’s Day this year, I gifted myself Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking with the express intent of taking on coq a vin as my Sunday cooking project.
Between browning the chicken in bacon fat, the prospect of lighting cognac on fire (averting the face!), and the side preparation of two additional recipes to achieve the final product, it had everything I look for in a weekend recipe.
Or so I thought until Bon Appetit slid into my inbox with a wickedly delicious proposition: Instant pot coq a vin.
Could it be true? Was the old-fashioned way really worth the trouble?
“Instant Pot coq a vin is so. damn. quick,” they said.
“Instead of hours in the oven, this classic French braise only needs 15 minutes at high pressure to achieve silky-shreddy chicken meat and vegetables so tender you can cut them with a spoon,” they said.
And just when I was looking to expand my Instant Pot repertoire. So, what did I do?
I went the 4 hour route. I know, I’m a masochist with an growing pile of unwashed laundry.
But what can I say? During-the-weekend Callie knows what she wants. And, might I add, she makes a damn good coq a vin.
Julia Child’s Coq a Vin
(From Mastering the Art of French Cooking)
Note: I read in lots of places that coq a vin is better the next day but felt rather strongly that if I was going to go to all that trouble and forgo my Instant Pot, I at least deserved instant gratification. And while it was delicious the first night, it was so good the next day. Do with that information what you will.
For the coq a vin
3-4 ounces of bacon
2 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 to 3 pounds chicken pieces (I used thighs and drumsticks)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup cognac
3 cups full-bodied red wine such as Burgundy, Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone or Chianti
1 to 2 cups brown chicken stock (if you can find such a thing, I couldn’t) or beef stock
1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf (I omitted)
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons softened butter
For the onions
18-24 pearl onions
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup beef stock or wine
Salt and pepper to taste
An herb bouquet of 3 parsley springs, 1/2 bay leaf, and 1/4 teaspoon thyme tied in cheesecloth (I lazily omitted)
For the mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, washed, well dried, left whole if small, sliced or quartered if large
1 to 2 tablespoons minced shallots or green onions (optional)
Salt and pepper
Coq a vin
In a large, heavy pot, melt the butter over medium heat, then sauté the bacon until lightly browned. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon from the pot and set aside.
Dry the chicken thoroughly, then brown it on both sides in the bacon fat. Season with salt and pepper. Add the bacon back to the pot, cover, and cook slowly for 10 minutes, turning the chicken once.
Uncover, and pour in the cognac. “Averting your face,” (Julia’s words not mine but it’s good advice although if I’m being honest, I found this step rather anticlimactic) ignite the cognac with a long lighter or a lit match if you are feeling particularly brave. Shake the pot back and forth for several seconds until the flames go out.
Pour the wine into the casserole. Add just enough stock to cover the chicken, then stir in the tomato paste, garlic and herbs. Bring to the simmer. Cover and simmer slowly for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and its juices run a clear yellow when the meat is pricked with a fork.
(While the chicken is cooking, use this time prepare the onions and mushrooms according to the recipes below. )
Remove the chicken to a side dish. Simmer the cooking liquid for a minute or two, skimming off the fat. Then raise the heat and boil rapidly, reducing the liquid to about 2 1/4 cups. Remove from heat and discard bay leaf.
In a small bowl, blend the butter and flour together into a smooth paste (called buerre manie). Beat the paste into the hot, reducing cooking liquid with a whisk. Bring to a simmer, stirring for a minute or two. The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.
Arrange the chicken back in the pot, spoon the mushrooms and onions around it and baste with the sauce. If not serving immediately, film the top of the sauce with stock or dot with small pieces of butter. Set aside uncovered. (But of course if you’re preparing it a day in advance, let it cool, then cover and refrigerate).
Shortly before serving, bring to a simmer, basting the chicken with the sauce. Cover and simmer slowly for 4 to 5 minutes, until the chicken is hot.
Oignons Glacés a Brun (Brown-Braised Onions)
To peel the onions, trim each one at the root. Blanche in a pot of boiling water for about 30 seconds, then transfer to a bowl of ice water. You should then be able to pop each onion out of its skin.
Add the butter and oil to a medium skillet and heat over medium heat until bubbling. Add the onions and sauté for about 10 minutes, rolling the onions so they will brown as evenly as possible (they won’t brown perfectly uniformly).
Pour in the stock or wine, season with salt and pepper taste, and add the herb bouquet. Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes, until the onions are perfectly tender but hold their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove the herb bouquet.
Champignons Sautés Au Buerre (Mushrooms Sautéed in Butter)
Place a large skillet over high heat and add butter and oil. The butter will foam. As soon as you see the butter foam has begun to subside, add the mushrooms, making sure not to crowd them. Crowded mushrooms will steam so always opt for cooking in batches if necessary.
Toss and shake the pan for 4 to 5 minutes. As soon as the mushrooms have browned lightly, remove from heat.
If using shallots or green onions, toss with the mushrooms and sauté over medium heat for an additional 2 minutes.