‘Quick’ and ‘easy’ are not normally words you would use to describe Coq au Vin, a traditional slow-cooked French recipe. After all, Coq au Vin was a recipe originally developed to make the oldest, toughest poultry melt-in-your-mouth delicious. The name translates to Rooster in Wine. Furthermore, peeling tiny shallots, browning chicken pieces, sautéing bacon and flaming the dish before it is stewed make it a rather high maintenance dish.
My version of the recipe gives you all the flavour of a slow-cooked Coq au Vin in a fraction of the time with much less effort. It’s a great recipe to serve to friends mid-week, or halve the recipe for date night.
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Quick and Easy Coq au Vin is Versatile
As you can see from the photograph below, I’ve been making this recipe for quite some time. I first blogged it back in 2013. Back them my favourite way to serve my Quick and Easy Coq au Vin was with new potatoes crushed with butter and steamed green beans garnished with flaked almonds. Now I’m more likely to serve it with mashed sweet potato, although a green vegetable is always good alongside. You can also serve Coq au Vin with rice.
The Story Behind My Quick and Easy Coq au Vin
Coq au Vin is known as ‘chicken in a lorry’ in our house. It’s a play on words with ‘vin’ implying ‘van’, which leads to the (now rarely used) old fashioned British word for truck – ‘lorry’. The most memorable instance of this dish being served in our home was one night before a house move when an attempt to use up what was left in the brandy bottle (surely a couple extra tablespoons wouldn’t hurt?) led to me nearly setting fire to the kitchen. Luckily I had kept the pan lid nearby so the flame was quickly extinguished! A word to the wise – in the case of brandy and coq au vin, please stick to the recipe!
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Hints and Tips for Making Quick and Easy Coq au Vin
It’s a good idea to prep all your ingredients for this recipe ahead of time. It makes the recipe even quicker and easier!
Further to the story above, please do make sure you have the lid of the casserole to hand when you flame the dish, just in case things get out of hand. Also, if there are children running around the kitchen, or the idea of setting anything alight is just too much for a weeknight, you can skip the flaming part. Just pour the brandy over where it’s called for and allow it to cook into the recipe a bit without flaming it. The chicken will still pick up a lovely brandied flavour.
Use good red wine for this recipe, a wine you would be happy to drink. I normally open a fresh bottle of wine to make this recipe, and serve the remainder of the bottle with the Coq au Vin, It makes a great accompaniment, as the taste of the wine echoes the flavours in the dish. The quality of the recipe is definitely affected by the wine you use. Please never, ever, use anything labelled ‘cooking wine’.
Speaking of brandy and wine, I have served this recipe to children with no ill effects. This is socially acceptable (and legal) in the United Kingdom and Europe. However, despite the flaming, all the alcohol does not cook off when you make this dish. If you have reason to be concerned about this, do save Coq au Vin for adults only dinners.
Quick and Easy Coq au Vin
- 2 tablespoons butter unsalted if possible
- 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1 cup of sliced mushrooms
- 1 cup of chopped bacon ‘streaky’ bacon works best, or buy ready chopped 'lardons'. Chopped pancetta will also work.
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 4 boneless chicken breasts
- ¼ cup brandy
- ¼ cup chicken stock
- 1 cup good red wine
- 1 teaspoon dried Herbs de Provence
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- scant ¼ teaspoon nutmeg freshly ground if possible
- 1 tablespoon corn flour corn flour is also known as corn starch
- 1 tablespoon water
- 2 teaspoons dried flat leaf parsley
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a thick bottomed casserole (with a lid) on the stove top. Sauté the onion and mushrooms for a minute or two. Grate in the garlic and add the chopped bacon. Continue to sauté for three to four minutes. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and cook for a moment or two. Remove the onion, mushrooms and bacon from the pan and set aside to keep warm.
- Add the remaining butter to the pan and sauté the chicken breasts on both sides until they are just beginning to turn golden brown. Return the onion, mushrooms and bacon to the pan.
- Pour over the brandy. At this point, you can carefully ignite the brandy with a match and allow it to flame for a moment or two before popping the lid on to extinguish it. However if there are kids running around or working with open flame feels a bit too stressful for a weeknight, it’s totally okay just to cook this for a few moments at high heat allowing the brandy to permeate the other ingredients while reducing at the same time.
- Add the chicken stock and the red wine, along with the Herbs de Provence, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Lower the heat, clamp on the lid and allow to simmer together for about fifteen to twenty minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F and no pink remains inside.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and keep warm. Blend the corn flour with the water and add to the sauce in the pan. Stir to mix thoroughly and cook for a couple of minutes until the sauce thickens up nicely. Taste for seasoning and adjust with a bit more salt and pepper if necessary. Stir through 1 teaspoon of the dried flat leaf parsley.
- Serve the sauce over the chicken breasts garnished with the remaining flat leaf parsley.