Friday, February 26, 2010

Coq au vin

Whoever thought of coq au vin, beef bourguignon, or anything else cooked slowly in wine, I'd like to say a resounding, Way to go, buddy! And I'm sure I'm not alone in my enthusiasm for this type of cooking. It requires a little effort on the front end, but the majority of the cooking happens in the oven, freeing you up to do any number of things. The final result is always deeply flavorful and while it seems a bit crazy to dump a bottle of wine into a pot--wine that you would otherwise happily guzzle sip--it's a wonderful dinner to sit down to, especially on a rainy night.

I used Ina Garten's recipe which can be found here. From start to finish, it took about an hour and a half. It would be a great dish to serve to company, as you could make it ahead of time and simply reheat right before serving. In fact, I'm sure letting the coq au vin sit for a few hours or even for a whole day would only deepen the flavors. I look forward to making this again, with two adjustments:

1) I probably won't use a whole chicken. Ultimately, I don't want to eat drumsticks and wings smothered in a sauce. To me, those parts are best when wielded by a pair of greedy paws, and elegant coq au vin doesn't really lend itself to such barbaric behavior. Next time I'll probably just use breast and thigh meat.

2) I will tie the thyme sprigs with a bit of kitchen twine so I can remove them easily in the end. Ina does not say to do this, and the husband and I were left pulling the woody little stalks out of the stew.

Also, I should note that I left out the Cognac. We don't keep it around, and while I'm sure it would have added great flavor, considering I might be out of a job soon, the last thing I should be doing is buying fancy bottles of liquor. While I can't live without wine, I can live without Cognac.

Here is how it turned out, all plated up.


To be honest, I almost didn't post about this because I wasn't happy with my photos. I was (as usual) in a hurry to snap them so I could get down to the business of eating, and there were some steam issues, some composition issues, and the fact that stewed things don't always look all that appetizing in photos. It's easy to lose any contrast that might exist in real life and end up with food that looks a little blobby. In this photo, for example, there's a chicken breast, crimini mushrooms, pearl onions, bacon, thyme, carrots, as well as potatoes and asparagus--but it all looks like a jumbly mess. Sorry. I figured you might forgive me though. After all, surely by now you've realized there are blogs out there with way better photos. I assume you stop by for my winning personality.

Give this recipe a try. It's simple and satisfying and gives you the excuse (if you need one) to eat a big heap of creamy mashed potatoes. While this would be nearly as good with buttered noodles,  I think we can agree that mashed potatoes are welcome on any plate, particularly if they're served alongside a lovely, rustic coq au vin.

34 comments:

  1. Your plating looks marvelous and this is one of my favorite recipes. There is nothing so delicious as coq-au-vin. I'd be ready too to dig in and enjoy this wonderful meal.

    Thanks for reminding me, I just might have to get out my Dutch oven and fix some.

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  2. You obviously saw from my last post that I am a HUGE proponent of dumping a bunch of wine and some meat in a pot and cooking the crap out of it. It is ALWAYS good. This looks delicious and there is definitely going to be some coq au vin in my near future!

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  3. Mmmm, wine and meat. Good times. Heh, I hate it when steam gets in the way of pictures.

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  4. I thought your plate looked delicious! (But I totally understand the steam issue with our cold weather these days.) Your version of the coq au vin looks better than one I had in a restaurant in Napa Valley where it looked so brown from the wine braising that I thought it was burnt. So probably coq au vin is not the most photogenic of dishes.

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  5. I love coq au vin and this recipe looks wonderful!

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  6. I love Coq au vin and I may be inspired to try this version this weekend!

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  7. Actually I do just stop by your blog because of your winning personality.

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  8. I can totally relate to the photo issues! Trying to balance taking enough pictures to make sure at least one of them is decent, while also battling a rumbling tummy and heavenly smells wafting up from the plate...yeah.

    And hooray for braising in wine!

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  9. Thanks, everyone! I see I am not the only coq au vin fan out there!

    Hungry Broad: Let me know if you try it & what you think!

    Tracey: See you in a few hours! :)

    camille: I think serious food bloggers take pictures after their food has cooled...somehow I've never been able to embrace that routine.

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  10. I, too, think you did a wonderful job with the plating. This dish is really hard to photograph because of its color. I add a tablespoon of tomato paste to mine to tone down the purple color of the wine. I can't tell you often enough what a lovely blog you fashioned for us. I love to visit here. Have a lovely day. Mary

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  11. You are definitely not alone. I made chicken bourguignon (my hubby and I aren't big beef eaters) recently for the first time and when he walked in the door from work he said he felt like he was walking into a fine restaurant, it smelled so good.

    Your picture looks nice. I know what you mean though - my husband always says that our dinner is getting cold while I'm trying to get a good picture. :)

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  12. This looks great,I wish I could convince my wife that stews are awesome...

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  13. HD, this looks like the perfect dinner. I don't think that stew-y things are very photogenic (our pals Diane and Pam being the exceptions, of course!). It's hard to plate them prettily. It's just not the way they're made. I had the same problem with goulash. Yuk. But YUM!

    Dan always has to wait while I take photos, but he doesn't mind. He doesn't like hot food anyhow...

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  14. Your coq au vin looks super!!

    MMMMMMMM,...a lovely dinner!

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  15. "elegant coq au vin doesn't really lend itself to such barbaric behavior..."
    ha--i agree that one doesn't often see dainty wine glasses shmeared with sauce from a chicken wing. :)

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  16. Mary: thank you for the wonderful compliments! I am so thrilled that anyone reads my blog at all, and to hear such flattering words makes my day. :)

    Domestic Adventurer: Thank you for coming by! I am looking forward to checking out your blog.

    egg to the apples: your wife doesn't like stews?! Oh well, I know you make lots of other delicious things for her.

    Sophie: thank you, and thanks for stopping by!

    grace: right?!

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  17. I've never made either and with all the Julia hoopla in recent months I've thought about giving them a whirl several times. You've brought me much closer to making it a reality, yours looks wonderful!

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  18. Yum yum . . looks like a great winter dish. And yes, love the winning personality. :)

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  19. Definitely the winning personality. Oh and the honest to goodness food. That coq au vin looks awesome! Good luck with the whole job thing, crossing all fingers and toes for you.

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  20. I think your presentation looks fabulous. And I don't notice a steam problem (which annoyingly seems to show up as a blur rather than inviting-looking steam) and love the colors you put on your plates. I've tried to photograph stews and soups but while they taste wonderful, they look bland on film.

    I must confess I've never made a coq au vin, but I will after seeing this!
    What's going on with the job situation? Are you looking?

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  21. You sound like my husband. I'll finish cooking dinner, only to snap maybe two photos, before I hear him asking plaintively, "Are you done yet? Can I eat yet?!?'' ;)

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  22. Oooh, an entire bottle of wine must be very aromatic... I am so with you on the difficulty of photographing the plate right before dindin. It helps if you have a food stylist around eh? p.s. I'm so excited I don't have to copy this before I hit the Post Comment button

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  23. What a wonderful dinner! It looks so hearty and delicious.
    I'm glad you decided to post this one.
    *kisses* HH

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  24. Thanks, y'all!

    Barbara: I'm looking. The place I work is going under, so I need a job, pronto. Although I'd like to freelance for awhile if I can...we'll see.

    foodhoe: Yeah, sorry it took me so long to fix that--I never realized it was an option! Hopefully it makes it way easier for people to comment now.

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  25. I don't think that anything wrong with the photo! It looks perfector! Very presentable as well. The best thing is it looks delicious. So, what's to worry! hehe... Just wallop them up.

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  26. I think this is one of the toughest dishes to photograph. Despite it being delicious it isn't always that pretty. Your photos are good!

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  27. Lovely meal, as always -- I have much love for the hearty classics! And keep your chin up about the job stuff. I've been using my layoff as a chance to explore new things and maybe even possibly a new career, so keep an eye out for the silver linings. They're totally there, plus I must say my being home most days makes our kitchen dog, Miss Indy, quite pleased.

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  28. My Little Space: Thanks so much!

    Katerina: Some of my favorite dishes aren't too pretty but that's always second to taste!

    denise: Thanks for your cheery words. Hey I might email you offline, have some questions for you.

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  29. these french dishes are quite high maintenance - i should know, because we took a stab at making beef bourguignon once. your final meal looks so hearty and filling! and i totally understand what you mean - sometimes you're so hungry and rushed that you can't spend time photographing too much. i get so impatient sometimes...

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  30. Krissy: thanks! and thank you for visiting. Looking forward to checking out your blog too!

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  31. Coq au vin = French for "purple chicken."

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  32. I have been meaning to give this a try. Thanks for the tip on using some twine with the thyme sprigs so I'm not trying to fish them out!

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  33. cookiecrumb, you're funny.

    Mrs. L.: let me know what you think if you try it!

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  34. Darn, I just ate a measly bowl of noodles and broth, and I come over here and see this beautiful plate of goodness! I never quite thought of what cookiecrumb said before, and it is funny!

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