In my continuing attempt to get as far away from Thanksgiving Day food as possible, today we head to France for that most classic of French dishes, Coq au Vin, but in an updated, healthier and much more manageable but still wonderfully flavorful way. Tonight at Chez Felicia, it's Vive La France!!
Coq au Vin is one of those sophisticated, chic European dishes I always read about but that seemed just a little too grownup and elusive to my relatively unadventurous tastebuds. When I finally did get to France and tasted it, I realized that it's actually considered much more of a simple farmhouse dish, miles away from fancy. The trick to making this classic is a long slow (2 day) soak of the chicken in red wine, onions and spices. Now, I don't know about you, but it's rare that I know what I'm making for dinner that morning, let alone two days ahead. This quick version lets you whip up the whole thing in under an hour using only one skillet and while it might not have the intensity of flavor of the original that I ate in France, I certainly did not hear anyone complaining--myself included!! The chicken is tender and the mushroom/carrot red wine sauce is plate-lickin' good--not that I would know from any direct experience of course--I'm far too cultured for that!!
It's also a whole lot healthier than the original which incorporates a substantial amount of bacon and butter and chicken fat to produce that rich gravy. Here you use olive oil, a bit of tomato paste and a water/flour mix to give the gravy it's richness. Not only is is substantially lower in fat and sodium, but a serving comes in at under 300 calories, more than half of what the original "costs" and I don't know about you, but after all the recent stuffing and pie indulgences, any savings in the calorie department right now is a blessing!!
Quick Coq au Vin
Makes 4 servings
Prep Time: 45 minutes-1 hour
- 1/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 2 bone-in chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds--doesn't have to be exact) skin removed and fat trimmed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 4 ounces mushrooms, cut into quarters (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 2 large carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 small onion, halved and sliced
- One 14 ounce can low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
1. Cut each chicken breast in half on the diagonal to get 4 equalish pieces--it's ok that some are thicker than others and season with half the salt and pepper. Place the flour in a shallow dish and dredge the chicken in the flour, shaking off the excess. Transfer to a plate. Take 2 tablespoons of the flour and combine them with the water in a small bowl, stirring well. Discard the rest of the flour.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and lower the heat to medium. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, turning the chicken once or twice int the process, until the pieces are lightly browned on all sides. Transfer to a plate.
3. Add the remaining oil to the skillet and lower the heat a bit. Add in the mushrooms, carrots and onion and cook, stirring every now and then, until the veggies are softened, about 5 minutes. Add in the broth, wine, tomato paste and the remaining salt and pepper. Stir well, until the tomato paste is dissolved. Bring to a simmer.
4. Add the chicken back to the pan, along with any juices that might have accumulated on the plate. Cover and lower the heat so that the mixture is simmering. Cook for another 20-25 minutes, until the chicken is entirely cooked through, stirring a few times in the process. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
5. Increase the heat to medium-high, give the flour-water mixture a good stir and add it to the pan, whisking constantly for 1 minute, until the sauce has thickened. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, sprinkle with the parsley and serve immediately.
Note: Recipe adapted from Eating Well One-Pot Meals by Jessie Price and the Eating Well Test Kitchen. I left out the 1 teaspoon dried rosemary--if you want to use it, add it with the mushrooms and carrots.