Coq Au Vin
From Mark Reggiannini
½ cup lardoons (thick pork fat or bacon), cut into ¼ by 1 ½ inch strips (optional)
2 or more tablespoons olive oil
2 ½ pounds ready-cut frying chicken, thoroughly dried
¼ cup Cognac or Armagnac
Pinch of salt and pepper
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon thyme
16 to 20 small white onions, peeled
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups red wine
2 cups (approximately) brown chicken or beef stock
1 or 2 cloves garlic, mashed or minced
¾ pound fresh mushrooms, trimmed, washed and quartered
If you are using lardoons, sauté them several minutes in oil in a heavy-bottomed casserole until lightly browned; remove lardoons to a side dish and leave the fat in the pan. Otherwise, coat the pan with a thin film of oil.
Heat fat or oil in pan moderately and add chicken, being careful not to crowd the pan; turn frequently to brown all sides. Pour in the Cognac, shake the pan a few seconds until bubbling hot, then ignite Cognac with a match. Let it flame a minute, swirling the pan by its handle to burn off the alcohol, before extinguishing it with the pan cover.
Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper; add bay leaf and thyme. Place onions around the chicken. Cover and cook slowly for 10 minutes, turning once. Uncover and sprinkle with flour, turning the chicken and onions so that they absorb it; cook a few minutes more, turning once or twice.
Remove the dish from the heat and gradually swirl in the wine and enough stock to almost cover the chicken. Add the browned lardoons and garlic. Cover and simmer 25 to 30 minutes, then test chicken; remove those pieces that are tender, and continue cooking the rest a few minutes longer. If onions are not quite softened, continue cooking them; then return all the chicken to the pan, add mushrooms and simmer four to five minutes. Taste and correct the seasoning—sauce should be just thick enough to coat chicken and vegetables lightly. If the sauce is too thin, boil it down rapidly to concentrate it; if it’s too thick, thin it with spoonfuls of stock.
Serve topped with tender, braised red cabbage or with bacon-mashed potatoes.