Now that February is here, it’s not too early to start thinking about Valentine’s Day! This year, instead of waiting in lines at restaurants and paying a huge premium for dinner, transport yourself to France by making some coq au vin. Translated to English it means chicken with wine. What is interesting about this dish is that it was actually a peasant or farmer dish in France. Once an old rooster on the farm became too old to be of service to the farmer, it would be then be utilized as a meal for the residents. I guess back in the day, nothing went to waste like today. Yes, I did say rooster – the male. Typically in the US, the chickens we get from the store are female. Roosters are more muscular and tougher pieces of meat so they aren’t as tasty as the female counterpart. This is why the farmers would braise the rooster in wine. By the time they were used for food, they were older and lost a lot of their tenderness.
Coq au vin is now chic and trendy. At it’s core, it is chicken stew – chicken and vegetables braised in red wine. I’ve read many different recipes that have called for things like soaking the chicken in red wine (or blood) overnight or cooking the stew for hours and hours. I think that they really over-complicate the dish. Even Ina’s recipe I think goes too far above and beyond the core of the stew. Today, chicken is more tender and doesn’t need to be soaked in wine or cooked for hours. It also doesn’t need tons of ingredients, just the basics. So, for this, I’m veering away from Ina’s recipe and really going back to basics and giving you my version of coq au vin that is easy and delicious.
For starters, I changed up the chicken used. You can definitely use bone in chicken. I’ve done this before and I find it too inconsistent. The pieces are usually all different sizes and the chicken skin gets really soggy and isn’t pleasant. I use boneless, skinless chicken thighs. The dark meat is usually more flavorful and affordable so why not? I also sprinkle it with flour before searing it in the pan so it gives the chicken more color since there isn’t any skin on it.
The most important ingredient aside from the chicken is the wine. Something to note, using red wine will turn the meat purple if you are using white meat. It’ll taste fine, it just looks a little weird. If you use dark meat, you won’t be able to tell as much. Red wine is traditional so I got a French red wine from Winc. I’m not a sommelier but I am starting to be able to tell the difference in taste between European (specifically French) and California wine. French wine is more tannic, spicy, and earthy whereas California reds are more fruity, smoky, and woody. Winc offers wines from all over the world and they have a great selection of French wines like Pas Ordinaire which hails from the Languedoc region of France (the South-Western area bordering Spain and the Mediterranean Sea). Here is a link for a discount off of your first order of Winc: https://hi.winc.com/2lhy61q4ll7.
I also like to add tomato paste to the stew before it goes into the oven. This is so not traditional, but it adds richness and depth to the gravy. Feel free to leave it out if you want, but if you never tried it, I dare you. It makes all the difference.
The best part about using boneless chicken is that it doesn’t have to cook very long. Thirty minutes in the oven then some simmering on the stove is all that is needed. None of this baking for 2-3 hours stuff. Once it is finished, serve it with some kind of carb like french bread or potatoes to use up the flavorful gravy.
Ina also included a chocolate dipped strawberry recipe in her book and I had to take it to the next level for Valentine’s day. I made chocolate covered strawberry cupcakes with a chocolate covered strawberry on top! Silky, silky. 😀 I took a major shortcut and made some store bought strawberry cupcake mix from a box. Feel free to go all the way and make a strawberry cake from scratch, but I honestly think that when it comes to strawberry, store bought is fine (total Ina moment right there).
Ganache is a mixture of chocolate chips and heavy cream, that’s it. Couldn’t be easier. I process mine in the microwave and in less than 2 minutes, I have decadent, velvety, delicious liquefied chocolate. Dip the strawberries in the chocolate then either leave as is or roll it in toppings of your choosing like sprinkles, crushed cookies, or drizzle with white chocolate. Place each in a cupcake liner to make sure the chocolate doesn’t get all over everything because it will. Now for the EASIEST chocolate frosting ever. Put the remaining ganache in bowl and pop in the fridge while you’re baking the cupcakes. Whip it with an electric mixer – I like my Kitchen Aid and it’ll turn into a fluffy chocolate whipped cream. This is what Heaven is made of!
Make these cupcakes and you’ll have a Valentine in NO TIME.
I also want to take a moment to shout out that I was recently featured in another blogger’s post! Pig and Tiger is a home decor/renovation blog and reached out to me regarding my opinions on what made a great kitchen for their readers who are in the process of redesigning their kitchens! Check it out at http://www.pigandtiger.com.
Enjoy and stay hungry! 🙂
Check out some great products on Amazon that helped me with my recipes this week:
Adapted from Back to Basics by Ina Garten
Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
Heat a dutch oven or heavy bottom (and oven safe) pot over medium heat, add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and bacon. Saute for 8-10 minutes until the bacon in crispy then remove the bacon. Meanwhile, sprinkle the chicken with 2 tablespoons of flour and 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Working in batches, add the chicken to the pan in one even layer. Sear for about 5 minutes on each side, remove to a plate and sear the rest of the chicken.
Add the carrots and onion to the pan with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Saute, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan for about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the chicken back to the pan along with the juices that collected on the plate, then add the tomato paste, thyme, bay leaf, bacon, wine, and vegetable or chicken stock. Bring to a boil.
Once the stew is boiling, cover with a tight fitting lid and place in the oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Meanwhile, clean the mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Remove the stems and cut into quarters. Heat a small skillet over medium heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once the pan and oil are hot, add half of the mushrooms, sauteing until brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove to a plate then add another tablespoon of olive oil and the rest of the mushrooms. Remove to the plate when finished.
Set the stew back on top of the stove and heat over medium heat, continuing to boil. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes more. Mix the butter and remaining 2 tablespoons of flour and mix until fully incorporated. Add to the stew, stirring quickly to thicken. Cook for 10 minutes until the stew is thick. Serve hot with french bread.
Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Adapted from Back to Basics by Ina Garten
In a microwave safe bowl, add the chocolate chips and heavy cream. Heat in the microwave for 30 seconds, remove and stir. Continue this process until the chips are just melted and form a silky chocolate sauce. Add the orange extract and stir.
Lay out your toppings onto a small plate. Dip each strawberry into the ganache then into the toppings of your choice. Lay in a cupcake liner or onto parchment paper. Continue the process until all strawberries are covered. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to set.
You can save the ganache by refrigerating or freezing. It makes a great frosting - just add to a bowl and refrigerate until cold. Mix with a beater until light and fluffy.