You’re pretty when you’re drunk

To all those whose brainwaves were never tainted by the lyrics of The Bloodhound Gang, I offer my congratulations. And my apologies, because there’s only one song this chicken wants to hear.

Coq au vin might not be the sexiest dish to look at, but there’s a reason it’s popular: when it’s done well, the meat slips off the bones in satiny sheets. And the vegetables – I like using carrots from the farmers’ market, because even in January, they’re more flavorful than what I find at the supermarket – they always submit entirely by the end of their 2-hour massage, and hit the plate in a sweet (albeit ugly) drunken stupor.

Make this when you have a couple of hours. You’ll need time to brown the meat properly, and time to peel the vegetables. You’ll want time to make good mashed potatoes, the kind light enough to pick up with a secret swiff of a fingertip. And you’ll do best to take your time eating, too, and remember the rich, rosemary-tinged flavor of the broth – ’cause God knows what she’ll look like in the morning.

Steaming braised rosemary chicken

Braised Rosemary Chicken with Red Wine and Root Vegetables (PDF)
Recipe 357 of 365

You think only Frank Purdue likes thighs that size? Think again. Oversize chicken thighs – we’re talking fatty fatty boom ba latty thighs, from hens that were bred to run around outside – can make for tough eating if you just bake them. But if you braise them, giving them time to soak up heat and flavor slowly, you’ll like them, too. This rendition of coq au vin, with sweet, wine-soaked carrots and parsnips, tastes best on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes or fresh, soft polenta.

TIME: 40 minutes active time
MAKES: 4 servings

1/4 pound pancetta (or bacon), diced
4 fryer chicken thighs (large thighs, about 2 pounds total)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, quartered and sliced
1/2 pound carrots (4 large), peeled and cut into 1” chunks
1/2 pound parsnips (4 large), peeled and cut into 1” chunks
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 (375 mL) bottle dry red wine
1 bay leaf
2 (6”) sprigs fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Heat a large Dutch oven (or some sort of heavy, ovenproof vessel with a lid) over medium heat. Add the pancetta, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 10 minutes. Transfer the pancetta to a paper towel-lined plate, and set aside. (At this point, you should have a thin layer of grease on the bottom of the pot. If your pancetta wasn’t that greasy, add a teaspoon or two of peanut or vegetable oil.)

Meanwhile, place the flour on a plate, season well with salt and pepper, and stir to blend. Roll the chicken thighs in the seasoned flour. When the pancetta comes out, increase heat to medium-high, and add the chicken pieces, smooth side down. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes per side, until well browned. Transfer the chicken to the plate with the pancetta, and wipe excess chicken fat (and any burnt bits) out of the pan.

Reduce the heat to medium. Add the olive oil to the pan, then the onion, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the onions begin to soften and pick the brown bits up off the bottom of the pan (about 5 minutes). Add the carrots, parsnips, garlic, wine, bay leaf, and rosemary, and bring to a simmer, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon.

When the wine simmers, nestle the chicken into the pot, cover, and braise (cook in the oven) for one hour, turning the chicken halfway through. Stir in the pancetta, and braise another 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes, then season the braising liquid to taste, and serve.

Note: Chicken can be made ahead of time, cooled to room temperature, and refrigerated overnight right in the braising pot. To reheat a day or two later, skim any accumulated fat off the surface of the stew, and reheat in a 325-degree oven for about 30 minutes.

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2 Comments

Filed under chicken, farmer's market, recipe, vegetables

2 responses to “You’re pretty when you’re drunk

  1. Erin

    I just made this the other night and it was delicious – warm and comforting and perfect for the stormy weather we’ve been having in the Bay Area. I will definitely be making this one again!

  2. Erin – great! So perfect for storms . . .

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