This past week I felt the need to get my hands dirty in the kitchen. Throw all the delicacy and perfection of putting together a meal out the window. I kept having thoughts of braising and simmering. Fingers began twitching and taste buds began to crawl. I needed to go back to basics.
The first step was to visit an old friend — the master of French cooking herself, Julia Child, a classic woman who put the class in cooking and gave society a look into the world of French cooking.
Have you ever watched an episode of Julia Child’s cooking show? If you have not, then you must head to YouTube immediately and watch an episode, any episode. See Julia Child, The French Chef playlist. It just might change you forever.
Not only does Julia Child give you tips on how to be a daring chef in the kitchen, but she shows you how to be yourself. Child has given people all over the world the inspiration to cook anything they put their mind to, including French masterpieces. As far as I could tell flambeing and a glass of wine were in my near future, I honestly don’t think I could have been any more excited.
I dusted off the dutch oven and stopped by the liquor store being sure to pick up a bottle of dark burgundy wine, along with my fire starter, cognac. The plan was to make an authentic French dish, something classic and homey. I went with the French dish Coq Au Vin, this translates to rooster with wine, I was feeling confident about the wine part but had no idea where to get my hands on a rooster. Rooster is a tough bird filled with connective tissue, ideal for braising but not for eating. The neighbor’s rooster might have cooked up nicely but I’m sure I would have been the only one to appreciate a missing rooster. Chicken it was.
The smell of braised chicken and the light show from the flambeing brought satisfaction to my craving for an exciting rustic meal. And there was enough wine left in the bottle to pour myself a glass and sit back and relax while the coq au vin simmered away on the stove.
It’s time to cook yourself a delicious rustic French meal equipped with fire and braised chicken. Don’t forget the french bread for dipping and keep your fire extinguisher close in case things get out of hand. Safety first.
Coq Au Vin
Yield: 4-6 servings
6 chicken thighs or 8 chicken legs or a combination of both with skin and bone
½ cup cubed bacon, thick cut preferred
1 lb bag frozen pearl onions
6 oz. Mushrooms, rough chopped
1 bottle of red wine, Chianti or burgundy, nothing too sweet
3 cups beef stock
3 tablespoons tomato paste
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons flour
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs of fresh thyme, removed from stem
4 tablespoons of Cognac
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot or dutch oven, render the bacon. After the bacon has rendered remove the bacon from the pan, leaving the fat behind. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. With the pan on medium high heat, carefully place the chicken skin side down in the pan being sure not to overcrowd. Brown all the chicken, in batches if necessary, on both sides.
After all of the chicken has been browned, place all of the chicken into the pan. Pour the Cognac into the pan, allow to bubble then carefully spark using a lighter or match, being sure to keep a lid near by. Flambe until fire goes out.
Toss in the frozen onions and let them simmer for about 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Sprinkle the flour over the chicken and onions. Turn chicken pieces over allowing the flour to absorb into the juices. Simmer for 5 more minutes.
Now add the stock and equal parts wine. Add the bay leaf, garlic, thyme, tomato paste and the browned bacon into the pan and stir well. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add the mushrooms 5 minutes before serving.
Season with salt and pepper. This dish can sit and be reheated later on for service. Enjoy with some crusty french bread and leftover wine.
Kayleigh Van Vliet Baig was born and raised in Riverhead, where she lives with her husband Tahir.
Kayleigh has been in the culinary industry for the last 12 years, working in kitchens on the East End. She also is a personal chef.
Got questions? Recipes? Ideas?
Look for In the Kitchen with Kayleigh every Saturday on RiverheadLOCAL.com.
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