Coq au Vin


10 oz shallots
3 tablespoons flour
6 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 oz chopped bacon or pancetta
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 cup brandy
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 bottle dry fruity red wine, 750 ml
8 oz small button mushrooms
1 tablespoon butter, softened (optional)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
creamy mashed potatoes or tagliatelle, to serve


  1. Cut the shallots into even-sized pieces, leaving the small ones whole and cutting the others in half or quarters.
  2. Put 2 tablespoons flour in a shallow dish and season it with salt and pepper. Dip the chicken breasts in the flour and coat both sides.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large lidded skillet or deep casserole, add the chicken breasts, and fry for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until lightly browned—you may have to do this in 2 batches.
  4. Remove the chicken from the pan, discard the oil, and wipe the pan with paper towels.
  5. Return the pan to the heat and pour in the remaining oil. Add the chopped bacon or pancetta and the shallots and fry until lightly browned. Stir in the garlic, then return the chicken to the pan.
  6. Put the brandy in a small saucepan and heat it until almost boiling. Set it alight with a long kitchen match and carefully pour it over the chicken. Let the flames die down, then add the thyme and bay leaf and pour in enough wine to just cover the chicken. Bring back to simmering point, then reduce the heat, half cover the pan, and simmer very gently for 45 minutes. (If you’re making this dish ahead of time, take the pan off the heat after 30 minutes, let cool, and refrigerate overnight.) Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes.
  7. Remove the chicken from the pan, set aside, and keep it warm.
  8. Using a slotted spoon, scoop the shallots, bacon pieces or pancetta cubes, and mushrooms out of the pan and keep them warm. Increase the heat under the pan and let the sauce simmer until it has reduced by half. If the sauce needs thickening, mash 1 tablespoon soft butter with 1 tablespoon flour to give a smooth paste, then add it bit by bit to the sauce, beating well after each addition, until the sauce is smooth and glossy.
  9. Return the shallots, pancetta, and mushrooms to the pan. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper, to taste. Cut each chicken breast into 4 slices and arrange them on warm serving plates. Spoon a generous amount of sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with parsley. Serve with creamy mashed potatoes or tagliatelle.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: Cooking with Wine

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