Sunday, January 20, 2013

White Wine Coq au Vin

It is so delightful to have a 3-day weekend so soon after the winter holiday break.  It's been a pretty low-key one as I fight the sore throat I succumbed to (likely infectors will not be implicated here).  I'd much rather have a sore throat than head cold/congestion when I lose my sense of smell.  Not being able to taste and enjoy food is a total downer for me, and that is when I get whiny about being sick.

Fortunately that is not the case currently, so today I embarked on a recipe that piqued my interest when I saw it on My Recipes last month.  It's a recipe from Sunset for white wine coq au vin:
It was billed as a "fresher, green herb-laced version of the original French classic".  Truth be told, I've never made the real deal coq au vin with red wine.  But this sounded like a lighter version, and it had a couple ingredients in it that got me excited - herbes de provence (a wonderful blend that includes a bunch of green herbs and also lavender - smells wonderful) and tarragon (which is an herb that smells to me like fennel or anise - which I love).

So here is most everything (but the chicken!) before I started.  Note the use of a French burgundy for the wine.  The recipe calls for a "chardonnay", and I couldn't imagine a heavily oaked chardonnay from California would be the right choice.  I wonder what would even happen to that stuff if you heated it to try to cook with it.  Seems unpleasant.

The recipe is pretty straightforward.  The herb-coated chicken looked and smelled fantastic after browning in the bacon fat.  There was alot of burnt flour - (notice how that is euphemistically called "browned bits" in recipes ) - on the bottom of Le Creuset after browning all the chicken, but it all came up easily while the vegetables were sauteing.  Note that I added a medium sized potato cut into 3/4-inch chunks when I added the broth, wine, chicken and bacon.  I knew that the recipe only called for 15 minutes of simmering time, and that the broth would likely still be pretty thin without the potato.  It worked really well, as in 15 minutes it had already thickened.

While the soup was simmering I warmed up some of the Acme Italian Batard, my absolute favorite soup and stew accompaniment.

Freshly chopped Italian parsley and tarragon are added immediately prior to serving.  We paired it with the white burgundy that was the vin of the coq au vin.

It was really flavorful for such a short cooking time.  And the flavors are so... French!  With the bacon, white wine and herbs, it tastes distinctively like French cuisine.  We really liked it.  I think that adding the potato was a great idea to make the broth thick enough the first day of serving, as it was pretty thin before the 15 mins of simmering.  In the absence of potato, it might be best to wait until the day after you cook it for it to set and thicken overnight before serving - if you can resist with all the good smells in the house!

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