Coq au Vin is commonly known as chicken in wine. However, coq actually means rooster. Therefore, Poulet au Vin would be more accurate to what is popularly known today. The term coq implies to many that Coq au Vin is a peasant dish in origin due to the fact that rooster meat is very tough and sinewy. It takes a long time to marinate and braise to make the meat tender. Tender meat would be sold at markets. This is why one should be careful with recipes. One can overcook the more commonly used chicken breast of today’s recipes. Bone in thighs and legs are better to use for Coq au Vin.
Legends point the existence of this dish to ancient Gaul and Julius Caesar. The rooster was a symbol of valor to the Gauls. Besieged by the Romans, the chief of the tribe Arverne, sent a symbolic rooster to Julius Caesar to show they would never be defeated. Caesar returned this gesture with a surprising twist, serving the chief with a delicious dish of rooster in wine.
Others associate this dish with King Henri IV of France (ruler from 1367-1413). “A chicken in every pot,” is from a famous political speech that promised the general welfare for everyone. So rich and poor would be treated equally.
The earliest records of this dish, however, date from 1864. Poulet au Vin Blanc (chicken in white wine) was first recorded in the Cookery for English Households. Coq au vin parallels this recipe. The dish was not documented until the late 20th century and the French regions of Burgundy (Dijon), Alsace, Champagne, and Auvergne all claim its origin.
Whatever the case, peasants are known to have thrown all they had into a pot and cook a big meal with leftovers. Tough meats and root vegetables would require long cooking to become tender. This is the way many dishes were formed. I know I have created a few of my own in this way.
What about you? Have you ever created your own dish? Do you wish to share it with us?
Coq au Vin
- 2 whole small chickens (about 3 pounds each) each chicken cut into 8 pieces (legs, wings, thighs, and breasts. Have butcher do this if you don’t know how)
- 2 cup Burgundy wine (such as Pinot Noir)
- 8 ounces pearl onions
- 1/4 pound slab bacon or lardons, cut into 1- by 1/4- by 1/4-inch sticks
- 8 ounces button mushrooms or morels if using a white wine, quartered
- 4 medium cloves garlic, minced
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Small cup of Brandy
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
- Beurre manie , equal parts of butter and flour
- 1/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
- Soak chicken in wine overnight in fridge.
- Preheat oven to 350֯.
- Brown onions with bacon and, mushrooms.
- Add garlic and slightly brown.
- Season with black pepper.
- Remove with a slotted spoon.
- Brown chicken, excluding the breasts, in bacon fat in batches, about 7 minutes on each side.
- Add brandy and flambe.
- Add remaining ingredients except parsley which will be used as a garnish.
- Cook in oven for one hour. Place the breasts in for ½ an hour.
- Remove chicken and add beurre manie to thicken sauce.
- Pour over chicken.
Garnish with parsley and serve hot