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Classic Coq au vin recipe

Dish filled with coq au vin, chicken pieces with vegetables in a red wine sauce

There’s a legend in France that the Coq au Vin recipe goes back to the Romans. The story goes that in 52 BC Julius Caesar arrived in France with his armies, intent on victory over the Gallic tribes. One of the Gallic chiefs sent Caesar a cockerel, meant to taunt him, a symbol of Gallic aggressiveness and bravery. Caesar who clearly had no respect for cocky symbols, had the bird cooked in wine. And promptly conquered the Gallic forces.

There’s no proof this is true and apparently there are no cookery books listing coq au vin as a recipe before the 19th century. But it could be true! Every region seems to have their own version and so does every French cook.

This recipe is a classic version, tasty, rich and robust… and it’s an easy to make coq au vin recipe!

Coq au vin for 4


4 pieces chicken (breast means no bones) (or you can joint a whole chicken for extra flavour)
Half a bottle of red wine (serve the rest with the meal!)
Bay leaf
Sprig of thyme
125g (4.5 oz) diced bacon or lardons
60g (1oz) butter
10 pearl onions (or pickling onions)
125g (4.5 oz) button mushrooms
½ teaspoon oil
Heaped tablespoon plain flour (all purpose)
½ litre chicken stock
60ml Brandy
Teaspoon tomato puree
Tablespoon chopped parsley

For thickening the sauce:

Tablespoon softened butter
Tablespoon flour

Make it…

Marinade the chicken in the wine with the thyme, bay leaf and seasoning. Leave overnight, covered.

Fry the bacon in a pan until golden and then remove. Fry the onions in ¼ of the butter until browned and then remove.

Drain the chicken and keep the liquid. Pat the chicken dry, add the rest of the butter and the oil to the pan and fry the chicken on either side until golden.

Stir in the flour and then place the chicken in a dish and cover with the stock. Add the brandy to the juices in the pan and boil for 30 seconds, then pour over the chicken. Add the marinade, onions, mushrooms and bacon. Cook over a low heart for 45 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

If you like the sauce to be nice and thick, remove the chicken and vegetables and boil the sauce. Mix the butter and flour together and stir briskly into the sauce for about 2 minutes. Return the chicken and veg to the pot with the parsley.

Served with some green veg and a hunk of baguette – food of the gods!

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