Before you wonder if you’ve hit a porn site, the line comes from the hit series “Emily in Paris” where Chef Gabrielle invites the young American upstart to try his Coq. Lots of laughter from the innuendo but it inspired me to search for my own Coq au Vin recipe that wasn’t overly caloric. In most French restaurants, you’ll see that one serving of Coq au Vin can range anywhere from 250 to 550 calories per serving. I think leaning toward the higher end of the scale is likely more accurate, especially if it is created true to tradition. In this recipe, I haven’t cut back on much because it’s… well, then it’s not true Coq au Vin. And let’s face it if you really want French cooking at its finest, then go off your diet for a day. This recipe, with just a couple of small chunks of crusty bread (to soak up the wonderful sauce), comes in at around 510 calories per serving. Enjoy on one of your Dad’s Diet days off.
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
4 ounces diced pancettaa
8 boneless chicken thighs
freshly ground pepper
large yellow onion, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup Cognac
2 and 1/2 cups red wine, preferably Burgundy or Pinot Noir
2 and 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 and 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 and 1/3 teaspoons sugar
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tsp dried)
1 bay leaf
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks on the bias
8 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms,
4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
4 tbsp all-purpose flour
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large (5qt) dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until the fat has rendered and the pancetta is crispy (5-8 min). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving the fat in the pan.
Season the chicken all over with 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Increase the heat to medium-high and brown half of the chicken in a single layer, skin side down, until golden and crispy, about 5 min. (Brown on the skin side only). Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a plate; set aside. Repeat with the remaining chicken. Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of the fat.
Return the pot to the stove and reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the onions to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened and just starting to brown. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add the Cognac and cook, stirring to scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan, until the Cognac has evaporated. Add the wine, chicken broth, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, sugar, thyme, bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to medium and gently boil, uncovered for 15 minutes.
Add the chicken and any accumulated juices from the plate back to the pot, along with the carrots. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook over low heat for 30 minutes, or until the chicken and carrots are cooked through.
While the chicken cooks heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are golden brown. Set aside.
Also while the chicken cooks: In a small bowl, mash the softened butter and flour to make a smooth paste. Set aside.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked chicken to a plate.
Increase the heat in the Dutch oven/pot to medium and stir in the flour and butter paste slowly. Gently boil until the sauce is thickened, 5-7 min. Fish out and discard the bay leaf.
Using a fork and knife, pull the skin off the chicken and discard.
Add the chicken and any juices back to the pot and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 min. Right before serving, stir in the browned mushrooms and pancetta. Taste and adjust seasoning.