Coq au vin is my favorite dish to make in the winter. Something magical happens when chicken, herbs, and wine bake in a Dutch oven. This gorgeous symphony marinades together to create, for me, that quintessential comfort flavor. More than the sum of its parts; coq au vin is an experience in taste.
Alex and I have gone to bed at 8:00pm three times this week. It’s like we just started hibernation or something. I’ve never been so excited to go to sleep so early in my life. With being early to bed, it’s really feeling like winter is here. And with that comes wanting to snuggle up in warm socks and eat stews all week. This coq au vin is seriously needed to assuage that desire.
My coq au vin recipe is made with mushrooms, pancetta, a handful of thyme and a generous pour of red wine. I’ve served it to a crowd and for two, and each time it was finished overnight. I’ve got a weekend of cooking to do, and a friend coming into town. Me thinks I need to make this baby again.
What is coq au vin?
If you’ve not yet had the pleasure of eating coq au vin, I firstly want to offer you my sincere condolences. You need to remedy that ASAP! Coq au vin is a traditional French dish of chicken braised in red wine along with ingredients like pearl onions, bacon, carrots and mushrooms. Coq au vin is definitely a labor of love, but it’s out of this world good. As long as you plan out the cooking process and allow enough time for the chicken to bake, you should have no problem making this iconic French dish!
Tips for making coq au vin with cauliflower grits
Don’t sub dried thyme — For the best flavor, you should use fresh thyme and not dried. Thanks to the pancetta and red wine, coq au vin is a heavy dish so the sprigs of fresh thyme are needed to complement those rich flavors.
Sear the chicken before baking — Before baking the chicken, it’s important that you sear it first in the leftover pancetta grease. This adds depth to the dish and seals in a lot of the juices before the chicken is mixed with the red wine and broth.
Use bacon, if needed — If your grocery store doesn’t carry pancetta, you can use bacon in its place. Just make sure you’re buying an unflavored bacon!
Don’t cook the cauliflower all the way — When you boil the cauliflower in the chicken stock, you should only cook it for a few minutes. If you cook the cauliflower too long, it’ll become far too mushy. You want the cauliflower to remain fairly thick once pulsed in the food processor.
In a large dutch oven over medium heat, cook the pancetta until lightly browned. Remove from heat and place onto a plate, leaving the browned bits and juices from cooking in the pan.
Sprinkle the cut chicken with salt and place it into the dutch oven 3-4 pieces at a time. Brown the chicken on all sides, about 3 minutes each. It’s OK if it doesn’t cook through completely, as it will cook fully later. Place chicken on the reserved plate. Scrape any browned bits on the bottom of the pan, leaving them there.
Add 1 tablespoon of oil into the pan, then add in the carrots, mushrooms, onion, and garlic. Cook until the mushrooms brown and the onions are translucent, 5-7 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Pour in the red wine and chicken stock, then add back in the pancetta and chicken. Add in the thyme springs and salt to taste (I used about 3/4 teaspoon).
Turn heat to high and allow mixture to come to a boil. Once it does, cover it and place it into the oven.
Bake for 1 hour. Once done, carefully remove from oven, and allow to cool slightly before serving.
make the cauliflower grits
While the coq au vin is in the oven, make the cauliflower grits. Pour the chicken stock into a large pot and bring it to a boil. Place the chopped cauliflower into the boiling stock and cook for 3-4 minutes. The cauliflower should be tender enough to pierce with a fork, but still have a good amount of resistance.
Strain the cauliflower through a strainer, saving about 1/2 cup of the cooked chicken stock.
Place the cauliflower into an electric mixer along with the cream cheese, grated parmesan, pepper and salt to taste. Pulse the cauliflower very briefly. You still want it to have some texture, just like grits. If the mixture is too thick, add in the reserved chicken stock 2 tablespoons at a time.
To serve, place the cauliflower grits in bowls, then top with coq au vin!