Meditations

Coq au Vin & Tarte Tatin: God Bless the French



For my 30th birthday last year, my parents bought me a Staub Coq au Vin Cocotte. I’ve roasted a few chickens in it, but I hadn’t made the namesake dish until last week. I don’t know why I waited so long.

Coq au Vin is a very simple dish. Cook a chicken in red wine, with bacon, mushrooms and onions. I read a handful of recipes, but decided to cook freeform, working with the most authentically French recipe I could find as a loose reference. I went shopping on The Drive on Thursday and picked up my ingredients. The star of the show was undoubtedly the home-cured bacon from JN&Z Deli. It’s smokey, fresh, and perfect.

The Staub Cocette is an impressive piece of cookware. It’s weighty and solid – there’s no amount of steam that’s going to loosen it’s lid. The lid itself has a series of dimples on the underside that are designed to keep the chicken moist when it’s cooking – a kind of a self-basting system. Made of enamelled cast iron, with a non-stick coating inside, it holds heat extremely well and is very easy to care for and clean. If you are looking for a Christmas present for a cook, this would look wonderful under any tree.

Most Coq au Vin recipes are very similar, so I won’t bother posting the whole recipe here. Chicken, wine, bacon, onions, and mushrooms. The ingredients are first browned for extra flavour, then are slow-cooked in the oven so that that the chicken is as tender as possible. The recipe that I followed included flaming the browned chicken with brandy before it is combined with the sauce and cooked in the oven. This step is not only spectacular, it adds a complexity to the flavour that is delicious. It’s a trick that is used a lot in French food and is really worth the extra effort.

I haven’t had more fun in the kitchen for a long time. This type of cooking is my favourite – making simple recipes that benefit from attention to detail. Inspired by Mark’s post, I also made a Tarte Tatin for dessert, and the collective meal was ridiculously good. A perfect way to spend a rainy Thursday evening.

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