Preparing coq au vin (“rooster in wine”) seems intimidating for a number of reasons: it involves manhandling an entire bird, marinating it overnight, cooking with liquor, and it’s French (which, for some reason, really ups the pressure). But it doesn’t have to be scary—just ask Amanda Freitag, renowned cook and alum of celebrated restaurants like Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Vong and Diane Forley’s Verbena (both now closed).
In her new book The Chef Next Door: A Pro Chef's Recipes for Fun, Fearless Home Cooking ($24; amazon.com), Freitag tackles coq au vin by simplifying the ingredients and cooking process: "I’ve eliminated the usual overnight marinating time and call for chicken legs rather than a whole laying hen or a rooster, which are generally hard to find at American butchers," she writes. "And although you could certainly make coq au vin with a regular chicken, who has room in their fridge for a whole chicken submerged in a big container of red wine for twenty-four hours?" Not us. If you’re looking to seriously impress your dinner guests without the fuss, try Freitag’s Easy Coq Au Vin recipe below.
Easy Coq Au Vin
Makes 4-6 servings
6 slices smoked bacon, diced
1 Spanish onion, cut into wedges
2 cups button mushrooms, quartered
2 tbsp unsalted butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 (750ml) bottle red wine
2 tbsp olive oil
6 bone-in, skin-on chicken legs
3 cups chicken stock or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
2 tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
2 tbsp minced fresh chives
1. In a Dutch oven over medium heat, cook the bacon until it’s crisp and all the fat is rendered.
2. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes, then add the mushrooms. Cook until the vegetables release some of their natural juices, using a wooden spoon to scrape up the delicious bacon renderings.
3. Add the butter and let it melt, then sprinkle in the flour. Stir and cook the mixture for 3 minutes to make sure the flour is cooked out, preventing any raw flour taste in the sauce.
4. Add the wine and stir or whisk vigorously until the mixture has no flour clumps. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until the wine has reduced by half, 6 to 8 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chicken legs, skin side down. You should hear a distinct sizzle when each leg is added. Add only as many legs as you can sear comfortably in the pan; you might have to work in two batches. Cook the legs on the skin side for 3 minutes, or until nicely browned, then flip and cook for just 1 minute on the other side.
6. Transfer all the legs to the Dutch oven with the vegetables and wine.
7. Deglaze the sauté pan with 1 cup of stock, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to get all the flavorful bits. Cook for 1 minute, leaving no flavor behind! Pour the remaining 2 cups of stock in with the chicken and veggies.
8. Simmer over medium-low heat, covered, for about 1 hour, or until the chicken meat is just about to fall off the bone.
9. Serve the chicken legs over rice or noodles with a generous ladle of the rich sauce. Top with minced chives.