Coq au Vin.

In the traditional recipe, which would probably begin with the words “First catch your rooster”, an old cockerel would be caught, slaughtered, plucked, gutted and chopped into six or eight pieces then placed in a bowl with a bunch of herbs and the contents of a bottle of Burgundy to be left overnight. It has been said that the older and tougher the bird, the better the Coq au Vin, which would be simmered slowly in a casserole for 2-3 hours. What follows in a little less robust, and a lot quicker to produce, but it still encapsulates the rich earthiness of one of the world’s great dishes.


400g lean chicken meat, diced.

1½ cups red wine.

1 medium onion, peeled and diced.

½ stick celery, diced.

1 sprig rosemary.

2 sprigs parsley.

2 sprigs marjoram.

1 bay leaf.

¼ cup olive oil.

25g butter.

¼ cup brandy.

2 tablespoons plain flour.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Another ¼ cup oil.

Another 25g butter.

200g diced bacon.

1 good cup button mushrooms, wiped.

8 small onions, peeled, whole.

¼ cup chopped parsley.


Dice the meat and tie it up in a muslin bag. Place it in a bowl with the onions, carrot, celery. Tie the herbs into a bouquet garni and add to the bowl then pour the wine over all. Leave in the fridge overnight.

Remove the meat and vegetables, drain and reserve separately, reserving the marinade. Heat the oil in a sauté pan over a hot flame. Brown the chicken all over then add the vegetables, salt and pepper and sauté for another 2-3 minutes. Heat the brandy over a flame and pour over the mixture; ignite with a match and shake the pan for a little. Stir the flour through the mixture, then add the marinade and the bouquet garni. Stir, bring to the boil then cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook gently for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Heat the rest of the oil and the butter together in a heavy skillet over a hot flame. Add the bacon and fry until beginning to crisp, then add the onions and mushrooms, cooking until starting to brown. Add to the chicken mixture and cook for 20 minutes then discard the bouquet garni and stir the parsley through. Serve with roast potatoes and green peas.

Serves: 2.

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