Coq au vin is a traditional French dish, but Julia Child put her own memorable stamp on it with her 1960s cooking show, The French Chef. Ella’s child and her storied foray into television were most recently portrayed on the HBO Max series Julia, which HBO just announced will return for a second season next year. Child makes coq au vin in one of the episodes, so to mark the passing of Season 1 and the (hopefully) imminent passage of the cold weather that has lingered throughout much of the country, we are reprinting the timelessly comforting (and slightly adapted) recipe from Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, the 1961 magnum opus she wrote with Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle. As Child observes in her original head notes, the dish “is made with either white or red wine, but red is more characteristic.” Traditionally accompanied by parsley potatoes, it is here served with potatoes and peas, the latter of which lend a pop of color to the dish’s rather earth-toned palette. Child advised “a young, full-bodied red Burgundy, Beaujolais, or Cotes du Rhone” to accompany the dish and, well, who are we to disagree?
Julia Child’s Coq au Vin Recipe (Chicken in Red Wine With Onions, Mushrooms, and Bacon)
Serves 4 to 6
A 3- to 4-ounce chunk of lean bacon
2 tablespoons butter
2½ to 3 pounds cut-up frying chicken
½ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup cognac
3 cups young, full-bodied red wine such as Burgundy, Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone, or Chianti
1-2 cups brown chicken stock, brown stock, or canned beef bouillon
½ tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
¼ teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
12 to 24 pearl onions
½ pound mushrooms
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons softened butter
Step 1: Remove the bacon rind and cut the bacon into lardons (rectangles ¼ inch across and 1 inch long). Simmer for 10 minutes in 2 quarters of water. Rinse in cold water. Dry.
Step 2: Saute the bacon slowly in hot butter until it is very lightly browned. Remove to a side dish.
Step 3: Dry the chicken thoroughly. Brown it in the hot fat in the casserole.
Step 4: Season the chicken. Return the bacon to the casserole with the chicken. Cover and cook slowly for 10 minutes, turning the chicken once.
Step 5: Uncover, and pour in the cognac. Averting your face, ignite the cognac with a lighted match. Shake the casserole back and forth for several seconds until the flames subside.
Step 6: Pour the wine into the casserole. Add just enough stock or bouillon to cover the chicken. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic, and herbs. Bring to the simmer. Cover and simmer slowly for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and its juices run a clear yellow when the meat is pricked with a fork. Remove the chicken to a side dish.
Step 7: While the chicken is cooking, boil the pearl onions until tender and saute the mushrooms.
Step 8: Simmer the chicken cooking liquid in the casserole for a minute or two, skimming off fat. Then raise heat and boil rapidly, reducing the liquid to about 2¼ cups. Correct seasoning. Remove from heat, and discard bay leaf.
Step 9: Blend the butter and flour together into a smooth paste (beurre manie). Beat the paste into the hot liquid with a wire whip. Bring to the simmer, stirring, and simmer for a minute or two. The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.
Step 10: Arrange the chicken in the casserole, place the mushrooms and onions around it, and baste with the sauce. If the dish is not to be served immediately, film the top of the sauce with stock or dot with small pieces of butter. Set aside uncovered. It can now wait indefinitely.
Step 11: Shortly before serving, bring to the simmer, basting the chicken with the sauce. Cover and simmer slowly for 4 to 5 minutes, until the chicken is hot through.
Step 12: Serve from the casserole, or arrange on a hot platter. Decorate with sprigs of parsley.
dina avila is a photographer in Portland, Oregon.
Recipe prepared by Ivy Manning.