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Coq au Vin Recipe

This classic from the Burgundy region has been badly misrepresented over the years; partly because of the sex of the bird - which is more often than not, is a Poulade (female); and partly because it is so seldom done justice.
Pheasant or Guinea Fowl can be cooked in the same way. Each of these birds will provide two helpings, a cock Pheasant perhaps three.


Although it's child"s play to make, it will take you 3 days from start to finish. There are 3 distinct stages -

1. Marination

2. Cooking

3. Maturing and the removal of surplus fat

Ingredients for 4:

For the marinade -

- 1 x 5 lb/2.25 kilos Free Range Chicken, divided into 8 pieces (your butcher will do this if you lack confidence)
- 1 big Onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 big Carrot, peeled and cut into small dice
- 4 Shallots, peeled and chopped, or 1 Leek, split then carefully washed and chopped
- 1 teaspoon (5ml) Herbes de Provence - that from ( containing both green anise & lavender gives real character
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 2 big cloves of Garlic, peeled and chopped
- 20 Black Peppercorns, crushed (you can do this easily in a plastic bag)
- 1 bottle (75cl) full-bodied Red Wine

To cook the chicken -

1 tablespoon (15ml) Olive or Sunflower Oil
1 oz/30ml Butter
1 oz/30ml Plain White Flour, sieved
½ pint/300ml Hot Chicken Stock (this can be made with half a stock cube, we find Knorr the best
1 tablespoon Crème de Cassis or Blackcurrant Juice (this accentuates the flavour of the wine)
1 tablespoon (15ml) Tarragon Vinegar

To finish -

- 8 oz/250gr Flat Mushrooms, cut into quarters
- 1 oz/30ml Butter
- 6 oz/180gr Unsmoked Streaky Bacon, with the rind removed and cut into 1 in/2.5cm pieces
- 16-20 baby (pickling type) Onions, peeled and left whole - if you leave the root intact, they are less likely to fall apart, and will look better when you serve the dish
- A small glass (about 50ml) Cognac or Armagnac
- A little Salt, but probably no Pepper
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) chopped Parsley, to decorate when serving


- Skin the chicken pieces and place them in a stainless steel or glass container with the other marinade ingredients, refrigerate for about 10 hours, turning the pieces occasionally.

- Drain the pieces of chicken, keeping the marinade, vegetables and peppercorns.

- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°/Gas 3.

- Heat the olive oil and butter in a deep frying pan, over a fairly-high flame.

- Sear the purple chicken pieces, in batches, for 2 minutes on each side, to seal them and help keep in their flavour. Make sure that the pan re-heats properly in between each set.

- Pile the chicken up to one side, until they're all sealed.

- Remove the pan from the heat and mix in the flour, making sure that you smooth out all the lumps with the back of a spoon.

- Lower the flame and return the pan to the heat; then gradually add the marinade liquid and the vinegar to the roux, whisking gently to prevent any lumps forming as it thickens.

- Transfer the chicken pieces to a casserole and add the thickened marinade and the reserved vegetables. If you are worried about any lumps, pass the sauce through a sieve. Add the hot stock and mix all together, making sure that the chicken and chicken are covered.

- Cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 55 minutes.

- While the chicken is cooking, melt the remaining butter in the frying pan, over a medium heat.

- Fry the baby onions until they are lightly brown (about 5 minutes), then add the bacon and seal. Finally add the mushrooms, turning them over gently until they are cooked.

- Pour over the Cognac, then add this mixture to the cooked chicken and mix in.

- Check the seasoning, you may need a little salt, but probably no pepper - remember that the bacon will continue to produce salt as the dish rests.

- Return the casserole to the oven and cook for a further 15 minutes, covered and undisturbed.

- Remove the casserole from the oven and leave in a cool corner overnight.

- Skim any fat from the surface.

*The dish can be prepared ahead up to his point, but can be kept in the fridge for 3-4 days (indeed it will continue to improve). It can also be frozen for up to a month.

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