Coq au Vin By Any Other Name . . .
January 9 | 2013
Each winter, after enough cold days, my mind inevitably turns to French bistro cooking. Robust dishes, slow cooked with big flavors. Although everything we do in our kitchen derives from bistro traditions, the hotter months seem to call for restraint. Not so now.
In that spirit, last week we began trying this year’s version of coq au vin — a fricassee of seared chicken braised in wine. While there are all kinds of regional variations of the dish, some of which are lighter and could be served in warmer months, the one most of us think about is the classic: red wine, lardons of slab bacon, button mushrooms and pearl onions. Deep red, rich with the flavors wine and thyme, with just a hint of smoke.
That is the dish we started to make last week. But we just couldn’t bear to stew the tender young birds we receive from Dewberry Hills Farms in order to follow tradition. They hardly need to be improved by a three day marinade or a long simmer on the stovetop. And really “coq au vin” simply means chicken in wine. We looked around and thought: we want to have it both ways – a perfect roast chicken and a full flavored red wine sauce. So this year we are reducing a cotes du rhone to near syrup and combining it with a robust roasted chicken stock and fresh herbs. And we are serving it with lardons, mushrooms and new potatoes, out of respect for tradition. Also out of respect for tradition, we are simply listing the ingredients on the menu and foregoing a name for our dish. But coq au vin by any other name is coq au vin, even a modern and personal rendition.