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Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Coq Au Vin

Coq au vin

There is quite some history behind this dish. In Grade 6 my French class put on a "traditional" French lunch. We (that is, our mothers) were given recipes and a date to bring in our French food to celebrate the end of the year (I think) and our completion of primary school (maybe I'm making up that bit?).
Each girl had a recipe for dishes ranging from Boeuf Bourguignon, French onion soup, Lemon tart, creme caramel etc. My friend Kita and I were given Coq au Vin, as was another girl we didn't like very much.
That weekend my mother was put to task creating this dish, and my friend and I giggled and played computer games in the study, whilst trying to sneak into the kitchen and steal choice bits of chicken out of the bubbling pot. We turned this into a bit of an adventure game; run from the study, straight to the blue couch, hide behind the blue couch, check if the coast is clear, head for the kitchen door, assess the situation, reach the pot and help ourselves to the goldmine inside (if half cooked chicken and red wine can ever be considered a gold mine...)
Well...our main memory of that event to this day is the handful of flabby, greasy chicken skin I managed to snatch during one of these raids. I proudly presented it, on the palm of my hand to my friend, who looked pretty horrified and politely declined my "look what the cat brought in" type offer. We still laugh hysterically at this story.
So....definitely not the most appetising story, but ever since then we've wanted to recreate that meal.
Last week I traipsed off to the house of the same friend in the story, who is now happily shacked up (!) and engaged to a very lovely man, and we cooked him dinner. I even managed to find the same French cookbook my mother used all those years ago, so we could truly recreate the same dish.
The one thing we didn't recreate were the commando-style raids on the kitchen, or the picking from the pot (...much). The dish was just as delicious as we remembered it, and really very easy to make. The excellent red wine I was offered certainly completed the picture. A throroughly enjoyable event; I'm glad we finally decided to recreate history!

PS - the other girl who was asked to make Coq au vin? The girl we didn't like? Her dish looked just horrible - bony and a GREY colour! Nobody wanted to eat it, and we as childish 11 year old found that highly entertaining. What nasty little girls we were....... :-)

(if you are wondering why the chicken doesn't have any bones in this picture, we chose to cook the chicken first and then remove the bones, as none of us felt much in the mood for using our fingers to such meat from bones during the meal....Hmm, we certainly HAVE grown up!)
Coq au vin
Australian Women's Weekly: French Cooking Made Easy
Serves 4

1.5kg chicken pieces
60g butter
4 bacon rashers, chopped
375g (about 16) baby onions
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 cups red wine
1 cup water
1 chicken stock cube
2 tablespoons brandy
1 tablespoon tomato paste
250g baby mushrooms
1 tablespoon plain flour
2 tablespoons water

-Cut chicken into serving-sized pieces; remove excess fat
-Melt butter in large frying pan, add chicken in single layer; fry until golden brown all over; remove from pan. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of fat from pan.
-Add bacon, onions and garlic to frying pan, fry until onions are browned. Stir in red wine, water and crumbled stock cube, brandy and tomato paste. Return chicken to pan, bring to the boil, cover, reduce heat, simmer 30 minutes.
-Add mushrooms, simmer uncovered further 10 minutes or until chicken is tender. Remove chicken to serving plate. Stir blended flour and water into pan, stir constantly over heat until mixture boils and thickens, stir over heat for 1 minute. Pour sauce over chicken.
-Serve with rice or potato. Green vegetables on the side.
Coq au vin

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