I picked up a new cookbook the other night while at the bookstore. Martha Stewart's Favorite Comfort Food - the best of Martha Stewart Living. I poured over it last night, and I must say...I am very excited to start cooking out of it! So excited, in fact, that I started tonight!
Coq au Vin is a traditional French stew, and something that I have been timid in trying. But, this recipe is moderately easy, with traditional ingredients and a big payoff.
Coq au Vin (recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart)
6 large garlic cloves, smashed
4 whole peppercorns
2 sprigs fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
1 dried bay leaf
7 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tbsp olive oil
8 oz pearl onions, peeled*
12 oz white button mushrooms, halved or quartered - if large
2 whole skinless and boneless chicken breasts**
1 tbsp butter
3 tbsp cognac
1 cup dry red wine
3 1/4 cups chicken stock
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp cornstarch
salt and pepper, to taste
Using a small piece of cheesecloth, make a bouquet garni. (see picture to the left) Wrap 3 garlic cloves, peppercorns, thyme, bay leaf and parsley stems; tie in a bundle with kitchen twine. Set aside.
In a large deep skillet, or Dutch Oven, heat 1 tbsp of oil. Add onions and remaining 3 garlic cloves. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown. Add the mushrooms and cook until golden, approximately 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
Cut the chicken into strips about 2 inches long and 3/4 inch wide. Add the butter and remaining 1 tbsp oil to the skillet. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Cook until browned. Add the cognac and wine. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Add chicken stock, and stir in tomato paste. Add bouquet garni. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered for approximately 15 minutes. Add the reserved mushrooms, onion and garlic. Cook 5 minutes more.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken and vegetables to a bowl. Discard bouquet garni. Over high heat, reduce broth by half. In a small bowl, dissolve cornstarch in 1 tbsp of water. Stir back into broth, and mix until incorporated. Cook 2 minutes. Return chicken mixture to pot. Garnish with thyme, and serve.
*Do yourself a huge favor and purchase those little frozen pearl onions! I swear, it sucks to peel all those little sons-of-bitches yourself.
**I used 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, and 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs. The dark meat added more depth to the dish. (And even though I do not like dark meat chicken - I really enjoyed the mixture in this recipe.)
One word...YUM. The mushrooms were my favorite by far - they just sucked up all those juices and were so packed with flavor.