Sunday, September 22, 2013

Eating Fall: Easy Coq au Vin for Two

Fall is a great time for cooking and eating.  Over the next few weeks I thought it would be interesting and fun to share some recipes that seem to fit the return of cooler weather.  This first recipe is adapted from Ian Knauer's great cookbook, The Farm.  This version is just right for two people and if you round it out with some late season corn, and a salad or some sautéed greens, it makes an elegant and easy early Fall dinner.

Easy Coq au Vin for Two


Two chicken legs ( whole legs and thighs)
Salt & Pepper
1 Tablespoon of Fat - Bacon Fat or Duck Fat or a combination (which I used) OR 1 Tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil (see note)

One leek, cleaned and chopped
One celery stalk, leaves included, chopped 
One carrot, sliced
Three garlic cloves, smashed

One cup of dry red wine - whatever you would drink
One bay leaf
One large sprig of fresh thyme


Pat the chicken legs dry
Season the legs with salt and pepper

Heat the fat in a heavy skillet (I used a medium cast iron skillet)
Bring the fat to a shimmer
Sear the chicken, skin side down, until the skin is golden brown - this should take about five minutes - do not turn the chicken over, just remove it to a plate

Add the leeks, celery, carrots, and garlic to the skillet and cook - remember to scrape all of the brown bits (called "Fond") as you cook the aromatics.
Cook until the vegetables are golden, but not quite brown, about 6 - 8 minutes.

Add the wine, bay leaf, and thyme to the skillet and bring to a boil.

Put the chicken back into the skillet, skin side up, and simmer with a cover on the skillet for about 20 - 25 minutes.

Uncover and simmer for another 5 - 7 minutes to slightly reduce the sauce.  

Remove the chicken to a warm plate. 

Add one or two tablespoons of unsalted butter and whisk until the butter is incorporated into the sauce.

Remove the bay leaf and season the sauce with salt & pepper.

You can strain the sauce if you wish.

Serve the chicken with the sauce ladled over it.  Good crusty bread also makes a nice accompaniment.

Note:  I - and this idea is right from Ian Knauer's Book - keep a jar of mixed fat in the refrigerator.  What Knauer calls a Master Fat. So when I make bacon - and this kind of fat keeping is what we are most accustomed to - I pour off the fat (keep the brown bits out) into the jar. When I cook duck breast, if I am not using the rendered fat for fries, I pour it into the jar. Recently, I roasted a piece of Peameal Bacon. Some of that rendered fat is in the jar.  Knauer suggests that every few weeks you can sit the jar in warm water to incorporate the fats. This makes for a very, very delicious cooking fat and in this recipe it really adds a flavor level! Master Fat - highly recommended.

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