Coq au Vin, rooster in wine is a traditional French meal. This dish was designed to take a tough old rooster and transform it into an amazing meal. Roosters are not found in our modern markets, and hens are not as tough. Coq au Vin using your grocery store chicken does not need as long to cook as the original version.
I recently sailed on the Norwegian Epic and had a dining package that included two meals in a specialty restaurant. I choose their French restaurant, Le Bistro, for one of the meals. I had the Coq au Vin, which was excellent. The waitress told me that they take over 20 hours to prepare the meal. My version does not take that long.
When I got home from my cruise, I challenged myself to create my own version of the dish. A version that would not take a full day. I started by looking online at many Coq au Vin recipes, noting the similarities and differences. Then I expanded by searching for updated versions using the slow cooker/ crockpot. I have cooked chicken in a slow cooker before, okay, I do it often. This has more of a challenge.
My Coq au Vin Slow Cooker Method
Coq au Vin is cooked using the braising cooking method. This is a combination method that I talk about in my book, Cooking To Impress. The method starts with a dry procedure and continues to a wet method. Traditionally, this dish is done in a dutch oven. The first step is to sear the meat, browning it in oil and high temperature. Then the liquid is added and the meal is simmered at low heat for hours. We can do the searing in a cast-iron skillet and follow with simmering in a slow cooker.
Most slow cooker meals take little prep time, however, to make this truly outstanding there are some initial steps such as the searing that needs to be done first. This step adds to the richness of the dish.
There is one step that I included which is not seen in many of the examples online. That is reducing the wine as I prepare the other items. One point that is often misrepresented online is the impact of cooking on alcohol. You will frequently see statements saying that cooking will remove all the alcohol from the dish. In my book (another plug for my Cooking To Impress book), I show where that is seldom the case. The alcohol will start to evaporate away when the temperature is over 185 degrees F. Even at that temperature, it could take a few hours to reduce the alcohol content by half.
One of the benefits of slow cooking is that the food remains moist, a factor in that is moisture does not escape. Evaporated moisture collects on the slow cooker’s lid, where the moisture condensates, cools, and falls back into the food. The same happens with the alcohol, while some will cook off, much is returned to the food. This can also lead to a bit of bitterness. To counter this, I suggest putting the wine in a saucepan on the stove. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes. This should reduce your wine by about half, lowering the alcohol content and intensifying the flavors, Just about the time you will need to sear your chicken.
Searing the chicken, mushrooms, and onions first will lend depth to the flavors and will make a noticeable difference. It may take some time, but it is well worth the effort. I suggest using chicken thigh, it is very flavorful and inexpensive. It also stands up to the simmer better than the breast does.
Also, as you look at the steps, you will see that I reserved a ¼ cup of wine. This is used to deglaze the pan. When you sear meats, some bits of it will stick to the pan. Adding a liquid to the hot pan will cause these bits to be released, and they will have an intense flavor. I suggest using a cast-iron skillet for this dish and using the remaining wine to deglaze the pan, adding the results to the crock pot.
Coq au Vin Crock Pot StyleCourse: DinnerCuisine: FrenchDifficulty: Moderate
Coq au Vin, rooster in wine is a traditional French meal. This dish was designed to take a tough old rooster and transform it into an amazing meal. It is even more tender with chicken from your local market. Coq au Vin is cooked using the braising cooking method. This is a combination method that I talk about in my book, Cooking To Impress. The method starts with a dry procedure and continues to a wet method. Traditionally, this dish is done in a dutch oven. The first step is to sear the meat, browning it in oil and high temperature. Then the liquid is added, and the meal is simmered at low heat for hours. We can do the searing in a cast-iron skillet and follow with simmering in a slow cooker
1 3/4 cups Red Wine (1/4 reserved)
4 oz Bacon cut in small pieces
Olive Oil (as Needed)
3 cloves of Garlic
6 oz Mushrooms
6 oz Pearl Onions
2 tablespoons Tomato Paste
2 pounds Chicken Thighs
6 oz Baby Carrots
1/4 cup Flour for slurry
- Add 1 1/2 cups of Red Wine to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer.
- In a cast-iron skillet, cook the bacon until crisp but do not overcook, set aside
- Add Garlic and Mushrooms to the skillet, sauté for 3 minutes, or until browned. Add olive oil if needed. Set aside with the bacon
- Add the pearl onions to the skillet, cook until it starts to caramelize, set aside
- Place the cooked items into the crockpot.
- Add oil to the skillet, when hot brown the chicken.
- Place the browned chicken into the crockpot on top of the other items.
- Use the remaining 1/4 cup of wine to deglaze the skillet, add the results to the crockpot
- Add the reduced wine to the crockpot
- After 2 hours, check on the cooking, turn chicken if necessary. Leave the lid slightly off to help reduce the alcohol content and to thicken the sauce.
- After another hour and a half, check the thickness of the sauce.
- If the sauce is still thin, estimate how many cups of sauce there is. Take some sauce into a measuring cup and add two tablespoons of flour for each estimated amount of sauce to the removed sauce. Stir together until there are no lumps to make a slurry and add back to the crockpot. Stirring as you do.
- Allow 30 minutes for the slurry to thicken the sauce. Repeat if needed.
- Serve over potatoes, rice, or another starch side.