To give my new cooker a good working test last weekend, I invited my family – Mum, two sisters, a brother and my Granny – to lunch on Sunday so, together with the Boyfriend and myself, we were seven. This, naturally enough, entailed several last minute phone calls home to see if they could bring an extra chair and several sets of cutlery!
Luckily the oven was able to cope with a very un-traditional Coq au Vin (a recipe that developed according to the foodstuffs I had in the house – not so easy to get extra ingredients at the drop of a hat when you’re a couple of miles from the nearest town!) as well as two layers of roasting vegetables – one of potatoes, without which no family lunch is complete, and the other a mixture of carrots, onion, garlic, courgette and pumpkin. Amongst all the lurid-coloured pumpkins-for-carving on sale around the place, I was thrilled to discover a very decent crown pumpkin during the trip to the English Market in Cork City on Saturday, which also supplied me with a half-dozen meaty organic chicken pieces.
This recipe was inspired by Frances Bissell’s Coq au Vin in her comprehensive Real Meat Cookbook (which also, luckily, contains recipes for rabbit!). I didn’t have enough red wine in the house hence the mixture of red and white that I used – it didn’t seem to cause any harm. The best dish to cook this in is a cast iron casserole as it lets you do the whole thing in just one pan, from frying the ingredients on the stove top to cooking it in the oven and onwards to the center of the kitchen table for serving. If you have any left-overs (if your little brother leaves any behind, that is!) they make a good supper, reheated and tossed with some freshly-cooked pasta.
Coq au Vin, Cottage-style
Olive oil – 1 tablespoons
Chicken – 6 large pieces
Streaky bacon – 250g, chopped
Onions – 3, peeled and roughly sliced
Garlic – 4 cloves, peeled and sliced
Flour – 2 tablespoons
Red wine – 250ml/1 cup
White wine – 500ml/2 cups
Chicken or vegetable Stock – 250ml/1 cup
Carrots – 4, peeled and chopped into 2cm chunks
Thyme – 6 fresh leafy sprigs or 1½ teaspoons dried leaves
Cloves – 4, ground
Peppercorns – 6, ground
Bay leaves – 3
Mushrooms – 250g, quartered
Salt to taste
Preheat oven to 190°C. Heat the olive oil in a solid-based casserole dish and fry the chicken pieces over a moderate heat until golden on all sides. You will have to do this in several batches. Set the chicken aside and pour off excess fat, leaving about 1 tablespoon in the casserole.
Cook the streaky bacon, onions, and garlic over a gentle heat for about 10 minutes until the vegetables have softened a little. Sprinkle over the flour and cook for two minutes then add the wines, stock, carrots, thyme, ground cloves, ground peppercorns and the bay leaves. Bring to a simmer then cover and put into the preheated oven.
Cook for 1½ – 2 hours until the chicken is very tender and falling off the bone, adding the mushrooms to the dish 20 minutes before you want to serve it.
Serve with roasted vegetables, boiled and roasted potatoes and, perhaps, some crusty bread to ensure that you don’t miss any of the delicious sauce on your plate. Serves 7, with a few left-overs.
Inspired by Coq au Vin by Frances Bissell in The Real Meat Cookbook.