Coq au Vin – Braised Rooster

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This is one of the most iconic recipes of the French cuisine, not only because the “coq” is their national symbol, but because this recipe is really a masterpiece if properly executed.

It’s an old recipe with a long history and tradition, that dates back when it was common to have roosters at home, or at least it was much easier to find them 🙂

This is a dish that takes quite a lot of time and efforts, and it’s a recipe that requires, as I said, an ingredient that nowadays it’s no more so easy to find: a rooster, a tasty and healthy free range rooster, so an animal that spent his life at open air and that took at least 10-12 months to grow and not just 30 days like most of the industrially farmed chickens nowadays. So it’s really a special dish for special days, perfect for the feasts 🙂

The recipe I’m showing it’s indeed intended for an animal of this kind, with tougher meat, that requires long braising times (at least 2 hours, but also a bit more). It’s a recipe that can be made also with a normal chicken, but in that case just 40-50 minutes are enough, so all the following procedure and times cannot apply in that case. In that case I suggest to simply add all the ingredients in the first steps and cook together till the end, but you’ll not have the same flavor and result. So my suggestion is really to look for a real free range rooster and to make this recipe really special, for special occasions. As I always say, I prefer to choose to do it less times, but as better as possible.

Wine: the usual choice in France goes on Beaujolais wine (like the Fleurie AOC), or other Burgundy red wines. So choose wines made with Gamay or Pinot Noir grapes, to be faithful to the origins of this recipe.

Some recipes suggest to use more wine, up to 3-4 bottles for a whole rooster (plus 1 for the marinade), to be previously boiled until reduced of one third to concentrate color and flavor, and only then used it to cook. That’s up to you, obviously it increases much more the cost of the recipe.

To use all the rooster at the best, I also prepared a delicious “Crostino Toscano” using its own liver, heart and gizzard. It’s perfect to serve as appetizer or next to it.

Let’s see the recipe now!

 

INGREDIENTS (4 people):

  • 1,5 kg free-range rooster (about half rooster, for a whole rooster just double all the ingredients)

For the marinade:

  • 500 ml red wine (read above)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery rib
  • juniper berries
  • 2 cloves
  • peppercorns
  • fresh rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf

To cook:

  • 500 ml red wine
  • 1 glass of cognac (but also Port wine/Madeira work well)
  • 1 big onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 200 g champignon
  • 20 g dried porcini (or 150-200 g of fresh porcini/chanterelles if it’s the season)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 15-20 pearl onions (or other small onions)
  • 100 g pancetta, slightly smoked (poitrine fumée in France)
  • thyme
  • some chicken/hen/rooster broth, if needed
  • 70-80 g butter
  • half tablespoon of flour (really just a bit)
  • 1 square of dark chocolate, 70% or higher (to use in particular if the wine is a recent vintage, to neutralize the acidity)
  • fresh parsley
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • salt

 

  1. First of all we have to prepare the marinade. Cut the rooster into pieces, take a bowl or a pan where you can fit perfectly all the meat, and add all the ingredients of the marinade and the wine. Cover it and place it in the fridge for at least 12 hours, but you can go up to 20-24 hours.coq_au_vin_4
  2. The day after remove the meat from the marinade and drain it well with absorbing paper. Filter the marinade and keep only the liquid part.
  3. Take a pan (an iron pan is perfect) and heat the pancetta, that you have previously cut into pieces. Cook at medium heat until crunchy and until it released all its fat. Then take out the pancetta and keep aside for later.
  4. In the same pan now you have to brown the meat. Start from the skin sides and then turn it. After 10-12 minutes, when it’s well browned, remove the meat and keep it aside.
  5. In the same pan now add the onion (cut into small pieces) and the minced garlic, and cook it until soft, 10-15 minutes. Add also some butter.
  6. When the onion is soft set the heat higher and deglaze with cognac (or Port/Madeira wine).
  7. Now pour everything inside a cocotte, and add also the pieces of meat. Add the wine, add also some of the marinade wine and 1 ladle of chicken/hen broth, until the meat is almost covered. Season with very little salt (we will have to reduce the sauce later).
  8. When it reaches the boil, set the heat lower, add the thyme at your taste, cover the cocotte and let it simmer for 1 hour. After 1 hour take a cup and put the dried porcini to soak with warm water (for about 1 hour), and remove also the cover of the cocotte and keep cooking the rooster for other 45 minutes. Add some chicken/hen broth if needed.
  9. After this time remove the meat from the cocotte, place inside an oven pan with some of its sauce and bake it at 180 °C for about 40-45 minutes, so the skin will get a bit crunchy. You can also pass the sauce through a sieve, and then keep cooking it in the cocotte until it will reduce (it will take at least 30 minutes).
  10. While the rooster is baking we can prepare the vegetables. Take the previous iron pan, heat some butter and cook the carrot (cut into slices) and the pearl onions, for about 15 minutes at medium heat. Then pour them inside the reducing sauce.coq_au_vin_3
  11. Immediately after this, cut the champignon and add them in the same pan (add some more butter) together with the dried porcini (squeeze them from their water) and the pieces of pancetta that you kept aside at the beginning. Cook at medium heat for about 10-15 minutes, and than pour them too inside the reducing sauce. Add also a square of dark chocolate in the sauce and stir well. Then take the flour, sift it, add it to the sauce and stir well again. Control if it’s salted enough, add also some freshly ground black pepper.
  12. At this time you should take out the rooster from the oven. Put it back inside the cocotte and let it mix well with the sauce for the last 5-10 minutes. Add some little chicken/hen broth if the sauce is too thick. Then switch off the heat and let it rest covered for 5-10 minutes.
  13. Serve it, sprinkle with some freshly chopped parsley, and enjoy 🙂 I’m sure you’ll lick your fingers 😀

 

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As always with this kind of recipes, if something remains you can also do a very good pasta on the day after 🙂 I carefully removed all the meat from the bones, I added just a little bit of tomato sauce since I was a bit short of sauce, a ladle of hen broth while the sauce was simmering (not to get too dry), I cooked apart some extra mushrooms and pearl onions (then added to the sauce), and served with ziti 🙂

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