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IMG_7174Coq au vin, (“rooster/cock with wine”) is a French dish of rooster braised with wine, lardons, mushrooms and onions. A red Burgundy wine is typically used, though many regions of France make variants using local varietals. Various legends trace coq au vin to ancient Gaul and Julius Caesar, but the recipe was not documented until the early 20th century; it is generally accepted that it existed as a rustic dish long before that.
Julia Child featured coq au vin in her breakthrough 1961 cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and she frequently prepared it on the PBS cooking show, The French Chef. This exposure helped to increase the visibility and popularity of the dish in the United States, and coq au vin was seen as one of Child’s signature dishes.
The preparation is similar in many respects to boeuf bourguignon. Purists, of course, will only make a coq au vin with an actual rooster but these days, most people tend to use a high quality large chicken. The chicken is seasoned, sometimes floured, seared in fat and slowly simmered in wine until tender. The usual seasonings are salt, pepper, thyme, parsley and bay leaf, usually in the form of a bouquet garni. The juices are thickened either with a roux or by adding blood at the end. I added chocolate to enrich the sauce and think that most of you might prefer that to the blood option.

IMG_7178I usually use chicken as well but last week was  driving by the Maison Paysanne, an organic and bio store in Le Bugue, when the black board outside caught my eye. It said that you could order fresh rooster for delivery on Tuesdays and Saturdays. I stopped the car, jumped out and went to inquire. You see, I had been wanting to make a real coq au vin for some time but it is not exactly easy to find rooster these days. The friendly assistant took my name and number and said that I could choose to have it whole or cut up in pieces. I picked the cut option and left on my way. Tuesday, we stopped in at 10:30 just as the owner of the poultry farm was delivering a few roosters that had been ordered, including mine. It was perfectly cut up and vacuum packed with the size and age of the rooster on the label as well as all the details about the farm where he had been reared including date of death – the previous day – so he was very fresh. I must admit that I was rather excited about making this and as soon as we arrived home I popped my rooster in the red wine marinade where he would remain for the next 24 hours.

Serves 6


1 rooster or chicken, cut into 8, (2 kg / 4 1/2 lb)
1 large onion, chopped
1 head garlic. separated into cloves, peeled
1 bottle good red Bordeaux
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
200 g / 7 oz bacon, cut into pieces or lardons
3 tablespoons butter
1 heaped tablespoon flour
1/3 cup cognac
20 pearl onions
300 g / 10 oz button mushrooms, halved
1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder


24 hours before:
In a large dish with a lid, combine the cut up chicken, onion, garlic and wine
Season with salt and pepper
Refrigerate overnight, turning the chicken pieces once or twice
Cooking day:
Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels
Strain the marinade and keep the wine
In a large dutch oven or other pot melt over medium high heat 2 tablespoons butter
Add the bacon and cook until golden, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside
Add the chicken pieces and brown nicely
Add the bacon and flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring
Pour in the cognac, light a match and flambé
When the flame has died down, pour in the wine reserved from the marinade
The wine should cover the rooster pieces
Bring to a boil then lower heat, cover and simmer until meat is tender (about 1 hour for a young rooster and up to 2 for an older bird)
About 20 minutes before the end of the cooking time, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a small skillet and sauté the pearl onions and mushrooms for about 5 to 8 minutes until the onions are golden brown
Add them to the rooster
Once cooked, remove the meat to a plate and keep warm
Place the cocoa powder in a small bowl and whisk in 1/2 cup of the sauce, whisking until smooth
Stir cocoa mixture into the pot and reduce sauce over medium heat, about 15 to 20 minutes
Reduce heat to low and return the rooster pieces to the pot to warm through
Serve with boiled potatoes and freshly cut parsley