Julia Child for the 9-to-5er: Coq Au Vin

I have lived in Seattle off and on for the past 15 years, but this winter has really gotten to me. I’m not sure if it was the fact that my doctor told me I was seriously Vitamin D deficient or if the taste of sunshine I got in California during my family vacation to Disneyland in January simply made me acutely aware of just how much I missed the sun. Either way, I really, really miss it. And I know Punxsutawney Phil claims that spring is just around the corner, but I’m not totally convinced. So I’ve decided to try to embrace the unyielding grey Seattleness and indulge in a few dishes that I won’t be able to make in the summer simply because my air conditioning-free apartment is not the place for adventures with my oven.

Coq Au Vin
Cooking with Vino

One of my favorite comfort foods is coq au vin. Don’t let the name or the fact that it’s French fool you into believing that it’s something fancy and difficult to make. It’s not. It’s a stew of chicken, mushrooms, onions, and red wine (vin). And it is damn good.  Depending on how long your commute is or what time you’re comfortable with eating dinner, the adapted recipe below could work as a weeknight meal. Or, if you have some extra time on a Sunday for some serious mise-en-place, try the full recipe from Julia Child.

While I countdown the days until I might catch a glimpse of that giant yellow orb in the sky once more, I’ll be devouring a few servings of this hearty French classic. Because if I can’t get warmth from outside, I’ll do a little warming from within.

Coq Au Vin

PBS Fresh Tastes Blog

Ingredients

  • 4 slices thick cut bacon
  • 3 lbs chicken breasts and legs, skin on (two breasts and two drumsticks)
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, minced
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 10 oz sliced mushrooms
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp salt (or, to taste)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Fry the bacon over medium heat in a dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed pot. After it’s fried, remove the bacon and place on paper towels to drain. Once cool, chop bacon and set aside. Keep the bacon grease in the pot.
  3. Turn heat to high and place chicken, skin-side down in the pot. Sear chicken until golden brown on both sides, about eight minutes. Then, add the onions, garlic, bay leaves and rosemary. Continue sautéing until the onions begin to soften, about six minutes.
  4. Add the chicken broth and red wine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and let simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. After 30 minutes, carefully remove the chicken from the pot and place in an oven-safe dish. Keep chicken warm in the oven while you work on the sauce.
  6. Stir the flour and butter (butter should melt instantly in the pot) into the red wine sauce. Bring back up to a boil and stir constantly—-sauce should be begin to thicken. Add mushrooms, chopped bacon, salt and pepper and continue cooking for 10-12 minutes. Keep in mind that the sauce will also thicken up a bit when it cools.
  7. Place chicken back in sauce and serve with roasted potatoes, noodles or a big green salad.

Yield: 4 servings

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Julia Child for the 9-to-5er: Sole Meuniere

Last week, I had a box of Moose Munch and a handful of Haribo gummy colas for dinner. I’d had a long day at work and delivery pizza was out of the question (I’m pretty sure all of the delivery dudes know me by now and this is a problem), and there was very little in my kitchen that could make a square meal. As I watched The Bachelor and wondered just how many people Tierra almost murdered before she was cast as this season’s villain, I made a belated New Year’s resolution: cook more.

Sole meuniere ingredients
Mise-en-place is tres important, mes amies.

I love to cook. My kitchen is filled with encyclopedic cookbooks, I have a stand mixer, a deep fat fryer, a crock pot, and a small army of Le Creuset cookware. But between the holidays and travel, I got out of the habit of buying actual groceries and fell back into some bad culinary ways. The simple act of cooking usually makes my days a bit brighter–as a child, I wasn’t allowed to watch any Saturday morning cartoons (this is a topic for another post), so I subsisted on a steady diet of Julia Child and Jacques Pepin, with the occasional episode of “Yan Can Cook” thrown in. From my first disastrous attempt at cooking rice (I was 8, my mom was sick, and I decided to throw rice in a pot with some water and turn it on high. Guess how that turned out.) to my very successful chocolate souffles, I find solace in the fact that unlike many areas of life, if I stick to a recipe, I’ll get an amazing result in the end.

But if work is busy, I easily fall into a not so great habit of not cooking, and relying heavily upon takeout and delivery. This isn’t great for my waistline or my pocketbook, nor is it great for the spirit. Cooking is a great creative outlet that also yields immediate results…and I know that’s the kind of thing we all need after a tough day at work. So, as I try to get back to cooking regularly, I’ve been leaning heavily on a series of recipes that require minimal prep time or that feature ingredients easily picked up on your way home from work.

My first is a quick and easy adaptation of sole meuniere. Sole meuniere, oyster, and a good wine were the first things Julia Child consumed upon arrival in France, and in a New York Times interview, she described that meal as “an opening up of the soul and spirit for me.” It may sound silly, and a little trite, but this brightly flavored, easily prepared, and slightly decadent dish might just do a little opening of the soul and spirit in your kitchen.

Bon appetit!

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