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Coq Au Vin


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note: This topic was a bit tricky to find. The Search Function needs words of four or more letters, so "Coq au vin" doesn't work. I went to the France: Cooking & Baking forum, searched for "classic chicken" and bingo.

So, t's going to be Coq au Vin for New Year's Eve at the Eater's. I've been watching DVDs of The French Chef television series from 1962 and beyond so it seems like a natural choice to revisit Julia Child and such a notoriously famous dish. I've recently read a dozen recipes and finally settled down with The Silver Palate.

I've prepped the veg, quartered and browned the chicken (a 10 lb. Meat King raised by me) sauteed everything in wine, and left the assembly to mellow in the fridge. This dish really is the poultry version of Boeuf Bourguignonne -- hearty and versatile. Tomorrow it bakes for an hour. . .

dang that looks good.

Jon

--formerly known as 6ppc--

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Tomorrow it bakes for an hour. . .

gallery_42214_5579_17119.jpg

Four days later and we still have coq au vin leftovers!

It was good, but I wasn't blown away. Overnighting in the fridge makes for flavorful and tender meat. One should use two smaller birds rather than a big 8 pounder.

I still have a problem cooking with wine. I would rather drink a $15 pinot than pour it on a chicken. And then simmer off the alcohol? One of the recipes called for a cup of cognac. I think not.

The other problem for me is the color -- red wine makes meat look gray and purple. I suspect tomato paste could improve this.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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  • 11 months later...

In lieu of rooster, "Poule au Pinard." An older hen's legs halved, marinated in thrifty red wine and aromatics (mirepoix, bay leaf, chili, star anise, peppercorns) for 5 days. The drained legs were browned in lard, followed by the caramelization of said aromatic garnish, tomato purée, splash of vinegar, some flour, the strained wine marinade and such and such. Braised until tender, strained and the liquid augmented by carrots, celery, onion sweated in with smoked pork jowl lardons, blanched potatoes and mushrooms. The delicate vanilla notes of red wine and land based proteins are nothing short of enjoyable.

4202492950_bdfec499ce.jpg

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  • 3 weeks later...

Four days later and we still have coq au vin leftovers!

It was good, but I wasn't blown away. Overnighting in the fridge makes for flavorful and tender meat. One should use two smaller birds rather than a big 8 pounder.

I still have a problem cooking with wine. I would rather drink a $15 pinot than pour it on a chicken. And then simmer off the alcohol? One of the recipes called for a cup of cognac. I think not.

The other problem for me is the color -- red wine makes meat look gray and purple. I suspect tomato paste could improve this.

Richard Olney's description of Coq au Vin in The French Menu Cookbook suggests making some adjustments when cooking with the young birds we're likely to have access to. One is using two smaller birds, as you suggest. Another is replacing half the wine with a gelatinous stock, such as veal stock or a combo of veal and chicken stock.

That last tip might also help with the purple color issue--I've had the same experience. In his cookbook Sauces, James Peterson discusses that when using red wine in a sauce, the proteins in meats and fish reduce the color and astringency of red wine when they are cooked together. Maybe that isn't happening sufficiently in our recipes. Perhaps adding additional stock will give that chemical process a boost.


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I don't have a purple color issue. Yes, the chicken does darken a bit, but there are enough other ingredients in the mix I suppose--and perhaps the use of less grapey wine--to make the color unremarkable, and not unappetizing in any way.

I make a large amount, using approx 3 modest sized birds. I often use extra thighs, so maybe the dark meats tends to look less stained. After browning, the chicken pieces get layered in a deep pot with about a half can of chopped San Marzano tomatoes (I would use fresh if they were in season), garlic, crumbled bacon, herbs and spices. We do use cognac; 6 T only, flamed in a ladle and poured over the layers. Then goes one bottle of wine, a quart of rich chicken stock, and water if necessary to just cover the ingredients. The veggies don't get put in right away.

We use a decent wine, one that would certainly be the equivalent of a $15 bottle; recently it's been a relatively light cab blend made by my BIL. It isn't very purple to begin with, and I guess the sauce picks up some color from the tomatoes, and perhaps too the color is softened by the chicken stock. To avoid overcooked or tough chicken, the overall cooking time is not that long--around 45 min. I suppose a really old rooster would require a lot more time. Then some of the juices are removed and reduced down, which also probably helps the color.

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I was taught to brown the chicken really well to alleviate the purple color issue. Once in a while I've found a cheap burgundy that's decent for this dish. More often, not--the cheap wines have off flavors that I dislike. I've cooked with beaujolais or a good Rhone red, with tasty results.

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  • 3 years later...

I love, love, love coq au vin but rarely make it because, mostly, when I make it I make it with actual rooster. Rooster is a little expensive. It also requires a trip. Anyway. I can get 'boiler chickens' locally. Boiler chickens are cheap, cheap, cheap. Normal times, I use them to make stock. I suspect they might make a workable substitute for rooster. I mean, at least, a better, closer sub than some fine dining place's use of poussin. And a more accurate sub, even, than a regular roasting/frying bird. The boiler's leanness seems much like the rooster's leanness. I think the regular roasting/frying bird is too tender for a classic braise. The tough, lean meat of a boiler might just be what it needs.

Am I entering dangerous territory here? Is this a terrible idea? For science and all, I guess I'm prepared to make a sacrifice and give it a go but ... anyone done this before?

Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

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We don't really have boiler chickens here in the U.S. We have roaster/fryers and in Chinatown where I live they sell birds that you wouldn't want to do anything with except make soup.

Is it an old hen?

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

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Don't know about boiler chickens.

Here in France I'd use poulet fermier. Literally farmers chicken. In other words free range chickens who are not caged, but roam free.

Not fat & very tasty.

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You'll just have to give it a try and see if you like it......

Here, the common classifications (which were updated by the USDA not too long ago) of chicken are.........

Rock Cornish game hen or Cornish game hen: an immature chicken younger than five weeks old (previously five to six weeks), of either sex, with a ready-to-cook carcass weight of two pounds or less.

Broiler or fryer: a chicken younger than 10 weeks old (previously younger than 13 weeks), of either sex, that is tender-meated with soft, pliable, smooth-textured skin and flexible breastbone cartilage.

Roaster or roasting chicken: a young chicken between eight and 12 weeks old (previously three to five months old), of either sex, with a ready-to-cook carcass weight of five pounds or more, that is tender-meated with soft, pliable, smooth-textured skin and breastbone cartilage that is somewhat less flexible than that of a broiler or fryer.

Capon: a castrated male chicken.

~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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You can regularly find old chickens in most larger Chinese stores.

You also can always find free range chickens with head and feet in those stores.

For those of you who are making Halloween dishes, you can find Silkies there; chickens with black skin and black meat.

dcarch

Edited by dcarch (log)
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In Australia, a boiler chicken is a retired egg hen. When you cut into the cavity, you can sometimes (well, quite often) find egg embryos. It is not a substitute for rooster.

There is no love more sincere than the love of food - George Bernard Shaw
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In Australia, a boiler chicken is a retired egg hen. When you cut into the cavity, you can sometimes (well, quite often) find egg embryos. It is not a substitute for rooster.

In that case, yeah, I certainly wouldn't use a "boiler" chicken for coq au vin.

Around here they're typically called "stewing hens."

They do make good soup, broth or stock.

I get them free.

These, Freedom Ranger Broilers, are the cocks I grow for coq au vin.

~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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FWIW, these fellers gave a stewing hen a go in coq au vin, served it up too soon and didn't like the results.

~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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As you probably know, Olney suggests a cock 10 to 12 months old. I once used a capon with pretty decent results, and, although I rarely make the dish, I've grossly compromised on roasters. I can sometimes get an older bird at the local Halal butchers - there's a suggestion for you.

 ... Shel


 

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In Australia, a boiler chicken is a retired egg hen. When you cut into the cavity, you can sometimes (well, quite often) find egg embryos. It is not a substitute for rooster.

Thanks for clearing that up. I normally drop them into the pressure cooker whole. I've never gone digging around inside.

Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

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Hens don't commence ovulation until they're at least 4-5 months old.

Most commercial hens are far too young to produce oocytes.

This morning I spoke with a French friend about the use of stewing hens in coq au vin.

She insists that when coq au vin is viewed as a farmhouse dish of necessity or comfort-food, quality stewing hens are an acceptable replacement for cocks.

Look for the larger breeds with ample flesh such as Jersey Giants, Australorps, Orpingtons, Delawares and the like.

Avoid the scrawny breeds, especially leghorns, but also Rhode Island Reds, Barred Rocks and the like.

Edited by DiggingDogFarm (log)

~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Coq au vin was created as a stewed dish because rooster is tough. From there it is easy to figure out the main guideline.

You need a stewing fowl that is both plump and fleshy like our farm roosters, but tough enough not to disintegrate after an hour of cooking — as I have seen American chickens do in most stewed dishes I used them in.

So either you find a real rooster from a farm or you get the oldest farm chicken you can put your hands on, with well-developed legbones. No soft bones: bone hardness is a sure sign that you will get a good stewed chicken dish.

It should be cut in rather small pieces (thigh and drumstick both cut in two parts, for instance), for it is important that the sauce penetrates the flesh properly during the cooking.

First stew the legs, wings, backs, etc., for the required time, but cut out the breast meat from the bone and set it aside, rubbing it with a little red wine or brandy. 15 minutes before your coq au vin is ready, add the breast meat and simmer until cooked through - do not boil.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ptipois,

When sourcing a "coq" in France for a coq au vin, what should I ask for? Will the butcher/stall holder understand if I explain what it's for or do I need to find the French term for a "real rooster"?

Your description makes me want to take down my well-thumbed 30 year old Julia Child and get cooking with her classic recipe.

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