Much easier than traditional Coq au Vin but just as delicious, the magical tenderizing trick results in amazingly tender chicken. It's a fabulous, make-ahead dish that's perfect for entertaining or an easy weeknight treat.
This Coq au Vin recipe was inspired by a market cooking class that Scott and I had the pleasure of taking in Paris this past summer, hence the name, Parisian Coq au Vin. We met with Paulo, our instructor at a magnificent local market, shopped for our dinner supplies then traveled to Le Foodist, a beautiful cooking school in the city's heart. The chef gave us assignments and we got to work, making a traditional French meal. The Coq au Vin was one of the delicious highlights of the fun evening.
What's Coq au Vin?
In the Paris class, Paulo explained that Coq au Vin translates to "rooster in wine". He went on to say that, like other classic French dishes (i.e. Beef Bourguignon) that are now thought of as fine cuisine, Coq au Vin was born of peasant frugality. In the early days, it was made with tougher, inexpensive cuts of meat (like old roosters) which became tender after a long slow braise in wine.
Although the exact origin of this dish is not known, it's thought to go back over 400 years. Julia Child brought Coq au Vin to notoriety after featuring it in her famous books, Mastering the Art of French Cooking and "The French Chef". These days, classic Coq au Vin consists of chicken that's slow braised in wine along with bacon, mushrooms and pearl onions, although throughout France, there are lots of variations depending on the region and the chef.
A myriad of variations
Paulo's version was his unique rendition, made with boneless chicken breasts instead of the traditional skin-on, bone-in chicken pieces. I loved the way Paulo created layers of flavor in a delicious sauce that didn't require hours in the kitchen.
In the class, we flattened the chicken breasts, then rolled them into sausage shapes and wrapped them in cooking-grade plastic. The little chicken "sausages" were simmered in the sauce, creating a simple sous vide. I took tips from Chef Paulo's expertise and set out to create a streamlined Coq au Vin that would be full of flavor yet doable in right around an hour.
After a few attempts, I'm quite happy with the results. I love that my recipe comes together quickly and can be made ahead. Like our Parisian Coq au Vin, the sauce has layers of flavor created with mushrooms, bacon, shallots, herbs and spices. Because I'm a big fan of sneaking in extra veggies in my recipes, I've also included carrots and tiny tender peas in my Coq au Vin.
The chicken is super tender thanks to a favorite trick of mine, an age-old Asian technique called "velveting".
What is velveting?
Have you ever noticed how tender the chicken is when dining at an Asian restaurant? The tenderness is due to a simple technique called velveting. The culinary gurus at Bon Appetit describe velveting as, "The culinary technique that takes stir-fries to the next level."
So what is velveting? Although there are variations, velveting is a method of marinating that keeps delicate meat and seafood moist and tender during cooking. The marinade ingredients can vary a bit, but generally include egg white, cornstarch, vinegar and a splash of oil. Kikoman (the soy sauce folks) explain that the marinade creates a "coating that acts as a protective barrier which seals in the moisture and also helps prevent the food from overcooking and becoming tough."
I came across this magical marinating technique years ago and began using it with stir-fries. It worked so well that I now employ it frequently and beyond the realm of Asian cuisine, as in this Parisian Coq au Vin. I like to cross international lines when it comes to cuisine!
What to serve with this Parisian Coq au Vin
Coq au Vin is often paired with mashed potatoes, but it's also deliciuos with pasta and egg noodles too. Julia Child suggests in her recipe, "to accompany it with parsley potatoes, rice, or noodles; buttered green peas or green salad; hot French bread; and the same red wine you used for cooking the chicken."
Serve this Parisian Coq au Vin on its own or with whatever you prefer. It makes a delicious dinner and the fact that it can be made ahead is perfect for stressless entertaining and easy weeknight meals. It's also a wonderful way to take a culinary trip to France without ever leaving home.
Cafe Tips for making this Parisian Coq au Vin
- Although I don't buy organic across the board, I do prefer organic chicken. I find it more tender and the individual portions aren't ridiculously large.
- What type of wine to use for this Coq au Vin? I like to use a Pinot Noir or a Burgundy but any dry red wine will work. The rule of thumb when cooking with wine is that it doesn't have to be super expensive but rather a wine that you would enjoy drinking.
- Feel free to use regular carrots for this recipe or baby carrots. If using baby carrots, I like to look for fatter carrots vs the little thin ones.
- You may have heard that you shouldn't wash mushrooms but should simply "brush" them off. I disagree with that advice. Mushrooms are grown in dirt and sometimes in manure. The dirt (or manure) may be sterilized but it still needs to be washed off before cooking. I run my mushrooms under cold running water and rub off any dirt with my hands.
- This recipe calls for pearl onions. You can purchase pearl onions in the produce section of many larger grocery stores near the other onions, however, they are labor-intensive and time-consuming to peel. I like to purchase frozen pearl onions, already peeled and ready to go!
- How to prep this Coc au Vin ahead? Make it through step 7 under For the sauce: At this point, you can either refrigerate the sauce and sliced chicken or hold the sauce at room temperature for an hour. If refrigerated, bring it out about 30 minutes before serving and warm it slowly. Marinate the chicken for 20 minutes as directed then drain. Once the sauce and veggies come to a nice simmer, add the chicken, stir, cover and turn off the heat. Dinner is ready to serve in 10 minutes!
This recipe calls for Herbes de Provence which is a classic blend of herbs often used in French cuisine. It's available in the spice section of most larger grocery stores and online. It adds a nice layer of flavor to this Coq au Vin.
- Be sure to take the time to reduce the wine to a thick, concentrated syrupy consistency. This will take about 8-10 minutes but it will eliminate any harsh flavor and bring out the fabulous flavor of the tannins. Reducing the wine also gives the finished sauce a lovely consistency.
- A beurre manié is used in this recipe to thicken the sauce right before the chicken is added. A beurre manié is simply a fancy French word that means "kneaded butter". All you need for a beurre manié is soft butter and flour. The two ingredients are combined in equal amounts and added to the simmering sauce. Cook's Illustrated explains a beurre manié: "If flour were added directly to hot liquid, it would clump; in a beurre manié, the flour particles are coated in fat, so as the butter melts, it seamlessly disperses the flour particles, which swell and thicken the liquid.
- I like to use a braiser pan with a tight-fitting lid. You can also use a lidded cast iron pan or a heavy-duty stainless steel pan. I don't recommend non-stick for this recipe as you want the fond to stick to the bottom of the pan as you cook the mushrooms and bacon. This helps develop delicious flavor.
- This last tip is completely optional but may be a life-saver on a busy day. Most larger grocery stores have packages of pre-made mashed potatoes. I was very leery of packaged potatoes, thinking that they were artificial potatoes or made from potato flakes. I decided to try them a while back and was quite surprised at how they tasted just like homemade mashed potatoes. These potatoes can be warmed on the stovetop, in the microwave or the oven. I like the brand called Simply Potatoes which is made from real potatoes, real butter and real dairy. You'll usually find them in the dairy section of the grocery store in the same area as the fresh pasta. Since they are not frozen, be sure to check the date for freshness. Using them may save that one last frenzied step when entertaining and no one will know when they are paired with this delicious Parisian Coq au Vin!
Thought for the day:
Not to us, O LORD,
not to us but to your name
be the glory,
because of your love and faithfulness.
What we're listening to for inspiration:
If you enjoy this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear your results, adaptations and ideas for variations.
- 8 ounces button mushrooms (I like cremini but regular button mushrooms will also work)
- 8 ounces carrots about 4 medium carrots
- 1 large shallot
- 4 medium garlic cloves
- 3 slices smoky, thick-cut bacon
- 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
- ½ cup low sodium chicken broth
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 4 cloves garlic finely minced
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 ½ cups dry red wine (I like a Burgundy or Pinot Noir but almost any dry, red wine will work!)
- 3 cups low sodium chicken broth maybe a bit more
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons low sodium soy sauce
- 2 medium bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
- 4-5 medium-size fresh thyme sprigs
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary divided
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt more to taste
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups frozen pearl onions thawed
- 2 tablespoons soft butter
- 1 large egg white from one large egg
- 2 teaspoons corn starch
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar any kind of vinegar will work
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup tiny frozen peas thawed
- fresh thyme leaves and rosemary sprigs for garnish, if desired
Wash the mushrooms under warm running water, rubbing all sides to remove the dirt. Lay the mushrooms on a clean kitchen towel after washing then cut into ¼-inch slices. Set aside.
Peel the carrots if using whole carrots. Slice them into ½-inch slices on a slight diagonal. Set aside.
Finely chop the shallot and mince the garlic cloves with a garlic press or a sharp knife. Set aside separately.
Stack the bacon strips on top of each other and cut the stack in half width-wise. Cut each stack in half length-wise then cut into ¼-inch slices.
Trim any excess fat from the chicken breasts then cut, width-wise on a slight diagonal into ¼ inch slices. Refrigerate sliced chicken for now.
Combine the mushrooms, ½ cup of chicken broth, ½ teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper in a large lidded cast iron or sauté pan or heavy-duty braiser or skillet (not a non-stick pan).
Cook over medium-high heat for about 6-8 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally.
Push the mushrooms to the side of the pan and add the butter in the center. When the butter is melted, stir to coat the mushrooms then spread to a single layer.
Reduce the heat to medium and allow the mushrooms to cook undisturbed for 1-2 minutes, until turning golden on the underside. Stir well then spread to a single layer again and cook another 1-2 minutes. Repeat if needed until the mushrooms are nicely browned. Remove them from the pan to a clean plate or bowl. Do not wash the pan.
Keeping the heat on medium, add the diced bacon to the pan and cook for 5-7 minutes until crisp and golden brown, stirring frequently. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a clean plate or bowl. Set aside.
Reduce the heat to low and add the chopped shallots. Stir and cook for 2 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and tomato paste and stir again. Cook for 1-2 more minutes, stirring continuously, until the tomato paste darkens a bit and the mixture is fragrant.
Add the red wine, increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce to a syrupy, thick glaze. Watch it carefully near the end so it doesn’t burn.
Add the chicken broth, brown sugar, bay leaves, Herbes de Provence, thyme sprigs, half of the chopped rosemary, the carrots, pearl onions, reserved bacon and the mushrooms (reserve a few for garnish, if desired).
Bring to a boil then reduce to a steady simmer and cover. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, until the carrots are nice and tender.
Combine the soft butter and the flour and stir until lump-free.
Add the butter mixture (beurre manié) to the simmering sauce, one tablespoon at a time, stirring well after each addition, until desired thickness is achieved. (You may have a bit of beurre manié left over.) (At this point, you could cool and refrigerate the sauce until ready to finish or finish now and serve.)
Prepare the chicken marinade while the sauce is simmering by combining the egg white, cornstarch, vinegar and oil in a medium-size bowl. Add the sliced chicken and massage for 20-30 seconds with your hand. Set aside to marinate for 20 minutes.
After the chicken has marinated in the egg white mixture for 20 minutes, add it to the simmering sauce and stir to separate the pieces.
Return to a nice steady simmer, add the remaining rosemary, then stir once more. Cover the pan tightly and turn off the heat. Allow the pan to sit undisturbed for 10 minutes.
Uncover and, if you prefer a thinner sauce, add a bit more broth. Stir well then taste. Add more salt, if needed. Garnish with fresh thyme, and the reserved mushrooms, if desired.
Serve and ENJOY!
If you prefer to use Metric measurements there is a button in each of our recipes, right above the word “Instructions”. Just click that button to toggle to grams, milliliters, etc. If you ever come across one of our recipes that doesn’t have the Metric conversion (some of the older recipes may not), feel free to leave a comment and I will add it.