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Coq au Vin

by Tamasin Day-Lewis from Tamasin’s Kitchen Bible (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

The classics of classics, this is an old-fashioned ‘70’s bistro dish. But the great joy of that particular ilk and era of restaurant food is that it’s the sort you always want to eat and the kind you want to cook at home. This dish is straight out of the bonne maman school of cookery. Make sure your fowl is the best you can afford, preferably a slow-grown, organically reared, free-range bird. Don’t imagine either, that there is cooking wine and drinking wine. There isn’t. What’s fit for the bird is only fit for it if it’s drinkable. The sauce should coat the bird with a gluey, ruby-red richness and depth of flavour. You may use the whole bird or just legs, the bones of which will make the sauce even more delectably gluey.

Serves 6


85g/3oz unsalted butter

3 tablespoons olive oil

110g/4oz organic green-back bacon, diced (or Nigel says you can use lardons)

18 shallots, but who’s counting, peeled and left whole

4 whole cloves garlic

18 organic mushrooms, halved

A large organic chicken, jointed or 6 good-sized legs

plain flour (5-6 tablespoons)

Salt and black pepper

A bouquet of fresh thyme, flat-leaf parsley and bay tied together (or Nigel says you can use a bouquet-garni)

4 tablespoons Cognac

1 bottle full-bodied red wine

1 teaspoon molasses sugar (or 1 tsp dark brown sugar)

1 tablespoon each of butter and flour

1 handful flat-leaf parsley (trimmed and chopped)


Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/350F/gas 4.

Heat the butter and olive oil in a heavy-based casserole dish over a medium heat and throw in the bacon. Sauté briefly, then add the shallots, garlic and mushrooms and cook gently until the shallots are beginning to turn opaque and pale gold. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Shake the chicken pieces with some seasoned flour in a Ziploc bag, then shake off any excess flour. Add them to the pan and brown first on one side then the other, for about 5 minutes a side.

Return the bacon and vegetables to the pot, add the bouquet of herbs and season. Cover the pot with a lid and cook until tender in the oven for about 25 minutes.

Set a saucepan on top of the stove on a moderate heat, warm the Cognac in a ladle (or in a pan), then pour it into the pan and set alight. Let the alcohol burn off before adding the pre-heated red wine and a teaspoon of molasses sugar.

Reduce by about one-third then thicken with some old-fashioned beurre manié. (Simply work together a tablespoon each of butter and flour until you have a paste, then break off pea-sized bits and whisk them into a ladle full of the hot liquid & add to the sauce.)

Strain the sauce into the coq and keep hot until ready to serve. Scatter with the chopped parsley.

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