January 25, 2009

Jen's Mock Coq Au Vin Surprise

This is the dish that I have had slotted since Friday night. It is finally going to happen! I have some chicken thighs that need to be used up, and since everyone at my house has been under the weather, I thought a nice chicken stew would be appropriate. I have been dying to make a real Coq Au Vin for some time now, but I never have all the right ingredients on hand. Plus, the real deal is pretty labor-intensive. With all that has been going on in my hectic life (potty training, visits to the pediatrician, birthday parties, laundry, Oprah watching, etc.), I haven't really felt like making the traditional dish. This time I almost have all the right ingredients...at least enough to make a short-cut version. My dish will certainly be less than authentic, but it should be close enough for our needs. The real French classic version of Coq Au Vin is so decadent, delicious, and time-consuming, it's hard to copy that kind of long, slow-cooked flavor.
I don't really have a recipe for what I have in mind, so I think I will just make it up as I go along. That qualifies this dish as one of my "surprise" concoctions. I hope that my version will be reminiscent enough to at least satisfy my craving.

Jen's Mock Coq Au Vin Surprise

2 tablespoons of canola oil, divided
4 slices good quality bacon, chopped
1/2 cup all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons
4-6 skin-on chicken thighs
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 of an onion, sliced
2-3 cloves of minced garlic
1 can of sliced button mushrooms; drained, rinsed, and dried of excess moisture (OR use fresh mushrooms if you have them)
3 ribs celery, stalks and leafy tops, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
4-6 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into chunks (I will leave these out next time)
1 tablespoon of dried thyme
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dry ground mustard
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1-2 teaspoons of lemon juice
1-2 teaspoons of white wine vinegar
1 pinch of sugar
4 tablespoons butter, divided (2 tablespoons go into the cooked noodles)
1 cup of dry white wine or dry sherry (I used dry sherry)
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup of water
2 cups frozen pearl onions

1 pound extra-wide egg noodles, cooked
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
A handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon of oil. Add bacon and cook until crisp, about 5 minutes, remove with slotted spoon. Leave bacon dripping and remaining oil in pan.

In a separate shallow dish place 1/2 cup flour and season with salt and pepper. Then, season the chicken with additional salt and pepper and add to flour. Toss the chicken to coat and shake off the excess flour.

Add chicken to the hot bacon drippings. Lightly brown the chicken about 3 minutes on each side then remove (set aside). Add other tablespoon of oil if needed. Add onions and mushrooms until slightly brown and starting to caramelize. Then add the celery, carrots and potatoes. Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper. Add dried thyme. Cook vegetables 5-10 minutes or until fairly tender. Add garlic for 30 seconds; do not let garlic burn.
Push vegetables off to the sides of the pan forming an open space in the bottom of the pan. Add 2 tablespoons butter to that spot and let it melt until slightly foamy. Then whisk in 2 tablespoons flour until paste (roux) is formed out of the butter/flour mixture. Whisk wine (or sherry) into roux, stir pan to combine then add in the chicken stock and water. Adjust seasoning of sauce with lemon juice, white wine vinegar, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, dry mustard, plus any additional salt and pepper.(Taste as you go, and adjust quantity to your liking).
Add chicken back to the pan and stir in the frozen pearl onions. Turn heat to medium-low and cover. Let simmer the for 30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and veggies are fork tender. Garnish with cooked bacon, parsley, and a little grated nutmeg. Serve over cooked, buttered egg noodles. Enjoy!

Jen's Notes:
Since I just wrote this recipe on the fly, all my measurements are approximate. I may have to adjust as I go along. Also, I realize there are two types of onions in this dish. I want the flavor of caramelized onions in the stew, but I also want the more traditional feel of the pearl onions. What can I say, we love onions!

The Result:
This turned out just right. It was really flavorful and totally satisfied my urge. It was soooo yummy!!! The hubs really liked it, but spent a few minutes pointing out everything that was or was not in the real Coq Au Vin (i.e. "Doesn't real Coq Au Vin have red wine?"..."I don't think real Coq Au Vin has potatoes and green beans???"...). Sigh. I know all those things....that is why I called it MOCK Coq Au Vin. I know my stew and the authentic dish share a flimsy link...but it made me feel good to title this dish as such. (Please do not leave comments indicating that this is no where near real Coq Au Vin...that point has been duly noted). My son loves anything with chicken and noodles, so he was an easy sell. He did not mind the lack of resemblance to the authentic version.

Anyway, despite what is or is not similar to ACTUAL Coq Au Vin, this dish was delicious. I put the green beans in it because we had some leftover, and I thought what the heck. (I am not even going to mention those in the ingredients list). In retrospect, the potatoes were probably a mistake. They really did not add anything special to the dish, and they did not cook all that evenly. I only added them because I had 4 small potatoes in my pantry that were looking a little lonely. I did make some other changes when I started cooking. I had to play around with the flavor of the sauce to get it right, therefore I added some other ingredients. Once the sauce was to my liking, it was drinkable; awesome, if I do say so myself! Rather than listing all that I changed/added, I think I am just going to amend the recipe above. It's just easier that way. Overall, this was really yummy. It was comforting and savory...a perfect chicken stew!

Oh, one other note. You may notice in the photo my flowered plates. Normally, I photograph our meals on our regular plain white dinnerware, but I wanted to shake things up a bit. Actually, we ate dinner outside on our patio this evening, and these are my plastic "outside" dishes. The weather has been so nice here in AZ (mid 70's at the end of January), we ended up spending a good chunk of our afternoon playing in our backyard. The husband lit a fire in our patio chiminea, and we decided to dine al fresco (that means outside in fancy talk). It was sooooo enjoyable!

We have a good portion of sauce, egg noodles, and veggies leftover, so I may try to turn that into a soup later on this week. I love morphing leftovers into a whole new meal!

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