24-30 pearl onions (Frozen work just as well, if you’re using them just skip step 1)
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup all purpose flour
8 ounces thick cut bacon, sliced
8 ounces button mushrooms, quartered
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 (750 ml) bottles red wine, preferably pinot noir (I recommend not spending more than $10 per bottle)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 medium onion, quartered
2 stalks celery, quartered
2 medium carrots, quartered
3 cloves garlic, crushed
6 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 cups chicken broth
The Day Before Serving
1. Cut off the root end of each pearl onion and make an "x" with your knife in its place. Bring 2 to 3 cups of water to a boil and drop in the onions for 1 minute. Remove the onions from the pot, allow them to cool, and then peel. You should be able to slide the onions right out of their skin. Set aside. (Skip this step if using frozen pearl onions and, instead, just thaw them in a sieve under running water.)
2. Sprinkle the chicken on all sides with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place the chicken pieces, a few at a time, into a large ziptop bag or sealable container along with the flour. Shake to coat all of the pieces of the chicken. Remove the chicken from the bag to a metal rack.
3. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat and add the bacon. Cook, stirring, until crisp. Remove the bacon from the pot with a slotted spoon and place on a plate.
4. In the same pan, using the remaining fat, add the pearl onions, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and sauté until lightly brown, approximately 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the onions from the pan and set aside on the same plate with the bacon.
5. In the same pot, brown the chicken pieces on each side until golden brown, working in batches if necessary to not overcrowd the pan. Remove chicken and place on a different plate than the bacon and onions.
6. Add the mushrooms to the same pot, along with 1 tablespoon of butter, and sauté until nicely browned, approximately 5 minutes. Store the onions, mushrooms and bacon in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to the next day.
7. Pour off any remaining fat and deglaze the pot with approximately 1 cup of the wine, scrapping up all the dark bits on the bottom. Then add the chicken broth, tomato paste, quartered onion, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf. Add all of the remaining wine and the chicken. Cover and allow to cool until you can comfortably rest your hand on the side of the Dutch oven and then refrigerate overnight. (I find it cools rather quickly due to the volume of wine.)
The Day Of Serving
8. About 3-4 hours before you wish to serve Coq au Vin, preheat the oven to 325*F.
9. Place the Dutch oven in the oven and cook for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until the chicken is tender. Maintain a very gentle simmer and stir occasionally. (I always forget to stir it and nothing bad ever happens as a result. Feel free to ignore it once it’s in the oven.)
10. Once the chicken is done, remove it from the Dutch oven to a heatproof container, cover, reduce oven heat to warm (about 200*F) and place the chicken in the oven to keep warm.
11. Strain the sauce from the Dutch oven in a colander and return the strained sauce to the pot, place over medium heat, and reduce by 1/3. Depending on how much liquid you actually began with, this should take 20 to 45 minutes.
12. Once the sauce has thickened, add the pearl onions, mushrooms, and bacon from the refrigerator and cook for another 15 minutes or until the heated through. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary, remove from the heat, add the chicken and serve. Serve over egg noodles or rice, if desired.
Note: If the sauce is not thick enough at the end of reducing, you may add a mixture of equal parts butter and flour kneaded together. Start with 1 tablespoon of each. Whisk this into the sauce for 4 to 5 minutes and repeat, if necessary.
Doubling Note: This recipe is easy enough to double just by doubling all of the ingredients. However, your Dutch oven, if it’s like mine, isn’t large enough to handle everything and 4 bottles of wine. I recommend, for the overnight marinade, just adding two bottles of wine to the pot and then adding the other two bottles of wine after you remove the chicken and strain the sauce in steps 10 and 11. It will take about an hour to reduce by 1/3, due to the extra liquid content. The taste will still be amazing.
Wine Note: Please do not use something labeled as “cooking wine” for this recipe. Use something that is at least tolerable to drink.
This is an Alton Brown recipe that has been tweaked a bit. I caught the episode once and knew I had to make this dish. This is strange for me because, however much I love Alton Brown’s show for the information; I’m not a huge fan of his actual recipes. I must say that this recipe just rocks.
It is a time commitment but it’s pretty much all the day before. The day you serve this it’s just a few hours in the oven, strain, and less than an hour on the stovetop. And most all of that time is unattended which allows you to entertain company because, let’s face it, this is a great “wow the guests” sort of meal!
I have served this with rice and egg noodles and both work equally well. The chicken is so amazingly tender that you don’t even need a knife. Leftovers are just as good as the initial meal. As written, the recipe serves about 4-6.