Ready in under 45 minutes, this easy peasy version of the French classic Coq au Vin would make a great stress-free dinner party main, but is easy enough to do for a weeknight treat.
A couple of months ago I embarked on the Sirtfood Diet. To be honest, though, it didn’t feel much like a diet as most of the meals were so delicious. One of the most delicious meals on the diet was Coq au Vin (oh yes did I mention this is a diet where red wine was positively encouraged – my kind of diet! Though in moderation obviously!!). Coq au Vin is, amazingly, a meal I had never eaten before the Sirtfood Diet (I know, I know – where have I been?), but after making the Sirtfood version I was determined to make it again and it has quickly become a Gargano family favourite.
Though the Sirtfood version was already quite simple, I did fiddle with it to make it even easier, quicker and (in my humble opinion) even tastier! And I am so pleased with the result – it is full of flavour and deliciousness, yet very quick and easy to make. I would be proud to serve this to guests (in fact, I have already!), but it is simple enough to make on a weeknight too. And it’s surprisingly healthy – lots of nutrients from the chicken thighs and vegetables, plus the wine has lots of heart healthy antioxidents going on too. And all the alcohol has been cooked off (yeah, sorry about that), so the kids can enjoy it too. My kids actually really enjoy their purple chicken dinner!
To make this super easy to make (and eat!), I have used chicken thigh fillets – these are chicken thighs without the skin and bones, making them as easy to use as chicken breast fillets, but with so much more flavour. Chicken thighs are much better suited to this kind of cooking, but if you absolutely must, you can make this with chicken breasts too – it will still work!
I have used lardons in this dinner, which work brilliantly – they are small cubes of smoked bacon that, I think taste so much nicer than ordinary bacon – but you can always use chopped up bits of bacon if you don’t have / can’t find any lardons – either way, just make sure you give them a really good cook on a high heat so those little cubes go golden brown and the fat melts out of them.
As for the wine, I have tried a few variations, but found something like a Cotes du Rhone or similar works the best, but feel free to experiment – as a good rule of thumb, though – do make sure you use a wine in cooking that you would be happy to drink too. This is NOT the place to chuck in the dregs of some bad bottle of wine you have had lurking around for a week or more! Good wine only, OK? (But probably not your poshest bottle either – you are going to be putting 200ml in the dinner!) And whichever wine you cook with will usually be the best wine match. This is definitely not a white wine meal!
I like to serve this dish with new potatoes, such as these lovely British Gems I was sent recently, and green vegetables – here I went for broccoli and green beans. But this would also be delicious with mashed potato or just some crusty French bread if you want to make this really easy peasy – plus French bread would be really handy to mop up all that lovely red wine gravy!
Easy Peasy Coq au Vin
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 red onion chopped
- 8-12 boneless skinless chicken thighs (depending on size and appetite – roughly 600g)
- 200 ml French red wine such as Cotes du Rhone
- 200 ml chicken stock from a cube is fine – I use Kallo Organic
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 sprigs thyme
- Salt and pepper
- 90 g lardons or chopped up smoked bacon
- 100 g chestnut mushrooms roughly chopped
- 400 g new potatoes to serve
- Green vegetables to serve
- Place the oil and onions in a large saucepan or flameproof casserole dish and cook gently over a medium/low heat for 3 minutes until softened.
- Turn up the heat and add the chicken thigh fillets. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the thigh fillets are slightly browned.
- Add the wine and stock, plus the bay leaves and thyme and bring to the boil. Turn down and put the lid on.
- Next, put a non-stick frying pan on a high heat and wait for 1 minute. Then tip in the lardons and cook, stirring frequently for 1 minute, before adding in the mushrooms and cooking for a further 2 minutes. The lardons should be golden and the mushrooms nicely browned. Tip the lardons and mushrooms into the chicken stew and give everything a stir. Replace the lid and continue cooking the stew for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, remove the lid. Stir the casserole and then leave the lid off to allow the sauce to thicken slightly*. Continue cooking for a further 15 minutes or until your potatoes and green veggies are cooked.
- While your stew is cooking boil or steam your new potatoes for 15 minutes and steam your green veg for 5 minutes (or longer if you prefer them softer).
- Serve the Coq au Vin with the new potatoes, green veg and a glass of the same wine you used in the stew.
*This stew produces a thin French style ‘jus’ rather than a thick English gravy. If you’d prefer a thicker gravy, mix 1 teaspoon flour or cornflour with a very small amount of water and then add this mixture to the stew when you add the lardons and mushrooms.
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