Exploring vegan, vegetarian and sustainable cooking

Julia Child’s coq au vin on a campsite

We spent our (Canadian) Thanksgiving camping, so we felt the desire to splurge on a fancy Thanksgiving meal. We knew it was going to be chilly, so we felt some soul-warming comfort food would hit the spot. Turkey would be overkill for two people who can’t store leftovers, so we opted for chicken. After leafing through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, we settled on coq au vin.

The recipe isn’t terribly complicated. There is some prep involved with some steps and ingredients, but many of these can be done ahead of time.

To save time and mess at the campground, I pre-measured all ingredients, butchered the chicken, blanched the bacon, prepared the beurre manié, and cooked the onions and mushrooms.

Coq au vin is a fricassée, meaning that the chicken is first fried then simmered in a liquid to finish cooking (as opposed to a stew where you start immediately with liquid). For coq au vin, the chicken is fried in butter and pork fat (from blanched bacon or lardon). The cooking liquid is cognac (flambéed), a full bottle of red wine (Burgundy wine is traditional) and only as much stock as required to cover the chicken. At that point, it’s hands-off so you can prepare the onions and mushrooms (if you didn’t do them ahead of time like I did).

The chicken fully cooks in the simmering wine mixture for 30-40 minutes. You then remove the chicken and reduce (and concentrate) the wine mixture. It’s then thickened into a sauce with beurre manié, equal parts butter and flour mixed together to form a paste, whisked into the hot liquid without risk of lumps.

The verdict: absolutely amazing. Every plate and pot was licked dry of all sauce. (Definitely worth a small splurge on good wine for both the cooking and drinking.) We will definitely be repeating this recipe!

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