If ever you are looking for a dish to make for that "special" meal, this is the one.
Again, I found it in the Good Food Magazine, however because it was billed as a "lighter" version (420 cals as opposed to 818 for the "full fat" equivalent) I had some reservations over it. Three forkfuls in and those reservations had been shot down in delicious flames.
This was very definitely one of those happy accidents. I wasn't planning on making a restaurant quality dish, but restaurant quality it sure is.
I will admit to tinkering around with the ingredients list, mostly because it was billed as serving six and should have contained chicken legs, thighs and breasts. I was only interested in serving three - and two of my diners aren't keen on chicken legs and thighs, so our Coq au vin was breast meat solely. However, it didn't appear to miss the added flavour that chicken legs will bring.
I also skipped on the brandy. We do have some, but just a little - and didn't want to lose it in a recipe.
As for the bouquet garni, well I cheated and used a Schwartz ready-made one. Ah yes - and the mushrooms. The recipe said to pan fry them and add them at the serving moment, but I couldn't see the point in losing the lovely flavour they could bring to the sauce. Hence, I added them raw at the beginning and let them absorb some of the lovely wine. To say they then acted as little flavour bombs, is putting it mildly. They were delicious!
I have reflected all these changes in the recipe, below.
Another interesting point (well, it was interesting to me, anyway!) was the use of the "thickener" for the sauce. I'd often seen a paste of butter and flour being used as thickener by various t.v. chefs, but hadn't ever used it myself. This one was 2 tbsp plain flour, a tsp of butter and a small amount of olive oil. Whisked into the sauce in small increments, it made a perfect thickener, with no flouriness or globby lumps, that I'll remember to use in other recipes.
I served the Coq au vin with some leeks, Chantenay carrots, Tenderstem broccoli and peas, all of which had been braised in vegetable stock with a clove of sliced garlic. With some mashed potato for son & heir, the dish was as healthy as it could get.
COQ AU VIN (serves 3)
1 tbsp olive oil
3 rashers smoked streaky bacon, chopped finely
8 shallots, peeled
150g button mushrooms
3 skinless chicken breasts
1 garlic clove, grated
400ml red wine
100ml good quality chicken stock (I used Knorr Chicken Stock Granules)
1 tsp tomato puree
1 bouquet garni (I used Schwartz)
For the thickener :
2 tbsp plain flour
1½ tsp olive oil
1 tsp softened butter.
1. Heat the oil in a large heavy based saucepan or flameproof casserole. Tip in the bacon and fry until crisp, then remove and drain on kitchen paper.
2. Add the shallots to the pan and fry - stirring often - for 5-8 minutes until well browned all over. Remove and set aside with the bacon. Repeat the process with the mushrooms.
3. Add the chicken breasts to the pan (you may need a little more oil) and fry for 5-8 minutes until golden. Scatter in the garlic and fry briefly, then pour in the wine making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan and de-glaze all those lovely flavoursome bits into the sauce.
4. Add the stock, tomato puree and bouquet garni. Season with salt and pepper and return the bacon and shallots to the pan.
5. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 50 mins to an hour.
6. Lift the chicken and vegetables from the pan and remove to keep warm whilst you thicken the sauce. Remember to remove the bouquet garni!
7. Mix the ingredients for the thickener together in a small bowl and bring the sauce to a gentle boil. Whisk teaspoonfuls of the thickener in to the sauce until it reaches the desired consistency - that of thickened double cream.
8. Replace the chicken & vegetables in the sauce and make sure they are all well covered. Serve.