This traditional coq au vin recipe makes the perfect easy dinner party dish or for a special family meal.
We love this timeless French classic recipe in our house. It is perfect for a cold winter's evening, with its rich, hearty sauce and wine infused onions and mushrooms.
The other great thing about this dish is that it reheats really well, and so you can make it ahead and reheat later.
It's pretty easy to make and pretty impressive to dish up - what's not to love?!
What is Coq au Vin?
Coq au vin is a hearty French stew made by cooking chicken in red wine. It represents rustic French cooking at its finest.
The best coq au vin recipe will result in tender chicken in a rich red wine sauce with crispy bits of bacon, soft sweet onions and juicy mushrooms.
Coq au Vin pronunciation
How to pronounce coq au vin often throws people - just say "Cock-oh-van" in a French accent and you'll be doing fine! So now you know why some people write it as Coco Van.
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Coq au Vin Ingredients
Traditionally a French coq au vin would be made with a whole chicken - a rooster or cockerel in fact. This was a cheap dish to make and cooking it slowly in wine would have helped tenderise a tough old bird.
However, nowadays it is far easier to just buy some chicken joints - I think thighs and legs work best.
They are best with bone in and skin on, however I have also made it with boneless, skinless thigh fillets when that was all I had and that has worked fine too.
As well as the chicken, the other ingredients for coq au vin are
- pearl onions (you could also use shallots)
- garlic (no need to chop it, just crush it down with a knife and take the skin off)
- thyme (fresh is best, but you can substitute with half a teaspoon of dried thyme if that's all you have)
- mushrooms (I prefer dark gilled mushrooms in this dish, but you could also use button mushrooms or white mushrooms)
- red wine (see below)
- butter and flour (this is to make a roux, which will help thicken the sauce at the end)
Some coq au vin recipes also include carrots and celery, so you could add those in too if you like.
Best wine for Coq au Vin
As the dish hails from the Burgundy region of France, the best wine to use for coq au vin is a French Burgundy - ideally a nice fruity pinot noir.
However, if you are not a real wine connoisseur then you probably won't notice too much what coq au vin red wine you use. I would suggest however that you don't go for anything too heavy - and definitely nothing too cheap!
How to make Coq au Vin
To make this easy coq au vin recipe, first you need to fry the chicken pieces to brown the skin and place them in a large Dutch oven with a lid.
Next you brown off the bacon and onions and add them to the pot, together with the red wine, garlic, thyme, bay leaf and seasoning.
Now you just need to bring the wine to the boil, add the lid and let it simmer for 40 minutes.
After the 40 minutes is up, chop up the mushrooms and stir them into the pot and continue to cook for a further 15 minutes.
Next you use a slotted spoon to remove all the ingredients to a serving dish.
Now you need to make a roux by mashing together a tablespoon each of butter and flour (I use a fork in a mug to do this) and add it to the wine mixture left behind in the pot.
Use a whisk to stir continually while boiling the mixture and it will thicken into a nice sauce.
Now you just need to pour the sauce over the chicken and serve.
What to serve with Coq au Vin
Ideally you want something that will soak up the juices - so boiled baby potatoes, mashed potato or a crusty French baguette is ideal.
The coq au vin sauce is rich so I think a simple vegetable like sauteed green beans, steamed broccolini or a green salad also make ideal side dishes for coq au vin.
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Coq au Vin
- Melt the butter and olive oil in a frying pan.
- Fry the chicken pieces, skin side down until golden brown. Turn and colour the other side then remove from frying pan and place in a flameproof Dutch oven with a lid.
- Fry the bacon in the frying pan until browned and add to the pot with the chicken.
- Fry the onions in the frying pan until lightly browned and add to the pot.
- Add the garlic, thyme and bay leaves to the pot and season with salt and pepper.
- Pour in the wine, bring to the boil and turn down the heat, put on the lid and let it simmer gently for 40 minutes.
- Chop up the mushrooms and add them to the pot. Continue to simmer for a further 15 minutes.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken, bacon, onions and mushrooms from the pot and keep them warm in a serving dish.
- Mash together the butter and flour to form a paste.
- Bring the wine left in the pot to the boil. Add the butter and flour paste and use a whisk to keep stirring while the mixture thickens. Once you have a nice thick sauce, pour it over the chicken.