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.