Saturday, November 20, 2010

Coq Au Vin over Roasted Garlic Lentils

   Coq au Vin is a traditional French country chicken stew.  I just learned this:  its conception is accredited to the personal war-time traveling cook of Julius Caesar after some bastard Gauls gave him an oooooold rooster as a "gift".  This creative cook, apparently was up to the challenge and thought, "I'll just braise the hell out of it in a pot full of wine."  Problem solved.  So yes traditionally, it uses a crusty old rooster (hence the coq portion of the name.)  But a rooster that refuses to die isn't an easy thing to come by in the regular super market.  I guess you could sneak one of your mother-in-law's roosters in the middle of the night and blame it on a weasel (JK........) or use a capon.  But it is just as easy to use a readily available (cheap!) chicken.  This dish is surprisingly easy to make; don't be intimidated!  Oh, and the roasted garlic lentils are a fantastic starchy (healthy) vegetarian side.

Coq au Vin
1 chicken, broken down into 4-6 pieces*, skin removed
1/2 C flour
6 slices bacon, chopped
1 large onion, cut into large pieces
2 large carrots cut into 2 inch pieces
8 oz mushrooms, quartered
1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 bay leaves
2 tsp herbs de Provence
1 tsp thyme
1/2 C sherry
1 bottle full-bodied red wine (ie Burgundy or Cabernet)
salt and pepper
Baby spinach or parsley

   Put flour on a plate.  Liberally salt and pepper the flour.  Coat chicken pieces with flour, dust off excess.  (*You can use all breast or all legs if you want, whatever your favorite piece.  Just make sure the bone is in it.)
   Render bacon in a large, deep pot.  Brown chicken pieces on both sides.  Add vegetables, lightly salt and pepper.  Add sherry.  Cook for 5 min.  Try to stir veggies if possible.  Add wine.  Bring to a boil.  Cover.  Reduce heat to med-low.  Cook for 45 min.  Remove lid.  Cook 20-30 more minutes to reduce liquid.  (Add chicken stock if liquid reduce too much.)  Meat should be fall of the bone tender.  (We actually found a completely clean bone in our pot; it was pretty funny actually.)  Serve pieces with bone still in or shred the chicken.  Serve over roasted garlic lentils or with boiled potatoes.  Top with parsley or torn baby spinach (for a bit of freshness to cut through the richness.)
   Serves 6.

Roasted Garlic Lentils
1/2 lb dried lentils (any color, brown is easiest to find)
3 C vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
3 large roasted garlic cloves

   Bring stock to a boil.  Add lentils.  (Make sure to pick out the tiny rocks from your lentils and give them a quick rinse.)  Reduce heat to med-low.  Cover.  Cook for 20 min.  Use a fork to mash garlic cloves into a paste.  Add mashed roasted garlic cloves.  Cook another 10-15 min (covered) until lentils are tender.
TIP:  To roast garlic cloves individually, separate cloves from head.  Place on a piece of foil.  Liberally drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.  Tightly wrap foil around garlic.  Put in a 350 deg F oven (or toaster oven) for 20-25 minutes.  Cool completely while still wrapped in foil.  Cloves will easily slide out of paper when ready to use.
   Serves 4-6.
Pictures by Heather!

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