Tuesday 24 February 2015

Elizabeth David’s coq au vin de Bourgogne

Serves 4
cockerel or roasting chicken 1 to 1.4kg
inexpensive but sound red wine burgundy, beaujolais or macon, ¾ bottle
salt pork or unsmoked bacon 110g
button mushrooms 170–225g
very small onions of the pickling type, 12–16
brandy a small glass
carrot 1
onion 1
herbs, garlic, seasonings, butter and oil fried breadflour 1 dessertspoonful
Have the chicken cut into 4 pieces.
Make a little stock from the giblets of the bird, with an onion, carrot, bouquet of herbs and very little salt.
Put the red wine into a large wide pan with a couple of bay leaves, a sprig of thyme and a crushed clove of garlic. Add ¼ pint of the chicken stock. Simmer steadily for about 20 minutes until reduced to about half of its original volume. During the last 5 minutes put in the mushrooms, washed and dried. Strain the wine, discard the herbs and garlic and keep the mushrooms aside. The seemingly large amount of wine is necessary to the dish on account of the reducing process, which in turn gives the sauce its characteristic flavour. Indeed, most recipes specify a whole bottle, but it is possible to manage with a little less.
Cut the salt pork or bacon into little cubes. Put it in the rinsed-out pan with a good lump of butter and a few drops of oil. When the fat from the pork starts to run, put in the little onions and, as soon as they have taken colour, add the pieces of chicken, well seasoned with salt and pepper, and let them fry skin side downwards. When the skin has turned a nice golden colour, turn the pieces over, and cook another minute. Turn them again. Heat the brandy in a little saucepan or soup ladle. Set light to it and pour it flaming over the chicken. Shake the pan and rotate it until the flames die down. Pour in the wine. Put a fresh bouquet of herbs and garlic in the centre. Cover the pan. Simmer gently for 40 minutes. Put in the mushrooms and cook for 5 more minutes.

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Transfer the chicken, mushrooms, onions and pork or bacon cubes to a hot dish and keep warm in the oven.
Have ready a number of triangles of bread, say 3 for each person, fried in butter, oil of beef dripping, and keep these also warm in the oven.
Have ready a tablespoon of butter worked with a level dessertspoon of flour and divided into little pieces the size of a hazelnut. Add these to the sauce in the pan. Stir over a gentle flame until the flour and butter have melted into the sauce. In less than a minute it will be thickened. Just let it come to the boil (it is a fallacy that you must not let a sauce thickened in this manner come to the boil, but it must only just do so) and it will take on a shiny, glazed appearance. Pour it over and round the chicken, arrange the fried bread round the edge of the dish and serve quickly. Unorthodox though it may be, this method produces an excellent coq au vin.


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