In my college years, I worked at the endlessly snotty Pot au Feu in Providence. A high end French restaurant, I was a waitress in the formal salon (we had a bistro downstairs). Even my pathetic excuse for French far surpassed anyone else in the restaurant, including the owner who insisted on pronouncing the name "Part-R-Fir". It was not the least charming aspect of his personality.
The restaurant, well renowned, gave the false impression many have of French food... that it is heavy and rich and full of sauces and cream. Perhaps the most surprising thing about my first trip to France some years ago was how light much of French food is... the plat de mer, the smoked salmon, the salads.
This is not one of those dishes because fuck that, suit up for winter.
Coq-au-vin is simple stewed dish, with chicken, vegetables and duh -- wine. The wine base is enriched with a bit of tomato and the vegetables that are added. Because I no longer can drink wine (a sad, pathetic tale of aging for another day), I make a version with beer. Classically, its made with potatoes, but the potatoes can be omitted from the stew and then the entire thing served on mashed potatoes.
This is a simple, delicious dish, all made in one large sautepan.
Coq-au-Biere Amanda for 2
1 small red onion
3 stalks celery
3 plum tomatoes
2 medium red potatoes
1 bottle of amber beer
1 cup of chicken or vegetable stock
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp flour
4 skin on chicken thighs (or 1 package of extra firm tofu)
Step 1: Prep your vegetables. Peel the carrots and largely chop them, clean and chop the celery, quarter the potatoes, trim the ends off the tomatoes and then chop, and thickly slice the mushrooms. Throw them all into a bowl. Dice the shallots.
Step 2: Heat 3 tbsp of olive oil in a large sautepan. Meanwhile, salt, pepper and season the chicken thighs with any additional herbs you may want. Once the oil is sizzling, add the chopped shallots, and stir for 30 seconds, then lower the temperature to medium high, and add chicken thighs skin down. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes, until skin is browned. If using tofu, skip the browning, just add tofu and proceed to step 3.
Step 3: Turn chicken thighs over, and then pour vegetables over the chicken. Pour in a half bottle of beer, and the stock. Add the tomato paste. If you're using a bitter beer, add in the brown sugar. Allow the pan to come to a rolling boil, and then turn down to simmer.
Step 4: After 45 minutes, the liquid has reduced. Sprinkle 1 tbsp of flour over the top of the pan and then mix into the pan. Cook for 10 more minutes and then turn stove off. Season with salt and pepper and serve. If using tofu, cut cooking time in half.
Again, serving this over mashed potatoes would not be a bad thing, even rice would be delicious. If you do, remove the red potatoes from the recipe. And if you love red wine, you can certainly use it instead of the beer, but I think the beer gives it a fresh, modern take.
This is an easy dish to reheat, and most of the alcohol is cooked out, so no worries about knocking about work drunk.
Since we're playing fast and loose, feel free to add different or additional vegetables: artichokes, turnips, parsnips, etc.
Voulez-vous cuisiner avec moi, ce soir?