Men Who Cook: jeffreyw, Coq au Vin

I’m getting ready to go out to the Festival of Lights, wrapped in many layers because we’ve had an Artic coldsnap.  Before I go, wanted to post this, because it’s time for one of my favorite features, Men Who Cook.  This one is from jeffreyw, with pictures even.  It sounds wonderful.  Take it away Jeff:

I’ve always been cooking something, I remember as a lad at home in my mother’s kitchen getting an inspiration when I saw a can of Chinese sprouts of some kind, probably La Choy brand. I didn’t know what to do with them but I knew sautéing in butter was something people did. I dumped the can in a pan, and added a scoop of oleo, then turned the burner on. I watched it for a while, stirring it some, thought that there must be something else to cooking these things. My eyes drifted over to the cupboard where the soy sauce was kept. I added some of that, then a little more. Finally I thought it was likely the stuff was hot enough and I spooned some out, tried a taste. I have since become better at making a meal.

I’ve had my special dishes for years and years, spaghetti, veggie beef soup, ham and beans, chicken dumplings-stuff I saw my father make. You know, the easy stuff that a man couldn’t mess up too badly. I bought a ton of cookbooks, tried a bunch of recipes, never really got interested in the dishes that took a long time to prep, or that required ingredients not easily found in a rural mid-western grocery store. I do remember a Baked Alaska I tried for my momma once, tasted pretty good, but the thing nearly slid off the platter.

One recipe that caught my eye was coq au vin. No idea where I saw the recipe, it listed the classic ingredients: carrots. pearl onions, salt pork, etc. It looked fairly easy, and I guessed that bacon would work, and diced regular onions would be fine. I took the plunge and made up a batch, turned out very tasty. And hey! I have a picture that will work. So…

In a large sauté pan, fry some bacon over medium heat, remove when brown and crisp. Keep the bacon grease right where it is.

Take a cut up chicken, salt and pepper the pieces. You can dredge them in flour or just use them without, place in the pan and brown the chicken well on all sides.

While the chicken browns, dice an onion and a couple of carrots. Some celery wouldn’t hurt. Potatoes? Sure, why not, you’re the cook.

When the chicken has browned, remove it to a platter, and take some of the grease out, as much as you care to, leave a bit in there, it tastes good.

Toss in a cup of red wine to deglaze, scrape the goodies off the bottom, add the chicken and bacon back, and the veggies, dump in a can or two of sliced button mushrooms. Or use fresh mushrooms, find some morels. My wife is the mushroom hunter, but I can find mushrooms at Kroger’s every time I go out.

Now is the time to add stock. I’ve seen recipes with chicken stock, and recipes with beef stock. I used beef stock the first time I made this and never had cause to reconsider. Start with 2 cups of stock, you can add more as it simmers. Now is the time to add more wine if you think it needs it.

Cover the pan and simmer for an hour at the minimum, longer will be better. Towards the end, uncover and let the liquids reduce until they look right to you, or thicken it up with some corn starch slurry.

Hey, you just made coq au vin! Big smile now, it’s going to taste great!

I always serve wild/long grain rice with this. Another veggie wouldn’t hurt, but you do have those carrots in there. Some nice crusty bread on the side would help to sop up the gravy. mmm…gravy.