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The best coq au vin recipe?

I 've asked some friends over for dinner next week and decided to do coq au vin. There are thousands of recipes out there, but what are your favorites? I looked at Julia's and it is very complicated. I looked at Alton's and Tyler's, both got great reviews and are somewhat simpler. I couldn't access the CI recipes tonight, even though I am a member (I keep getting "internet explorer can't...") So, CH's, help me out here, please! And thanks in advance. Dee
PS, I don't know where to get tomato paste where I live, but a little tomato puree, cooked down, should be ok, no?

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  1. Tomato paste usually comes in small cans (6 oz) or tubes...I've always seen it in any regular supermarket in the same area as the canned tomatoes.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jaykayen

      the tubes of tomato paste are SO much more user friendly. no need to figure out how to store the opened can. you can use a little or a lot, and you will start using small amounts in all sorts of recipes.

      1. re: jaykayen

        I live in México. Normally, the only canned tomato products available are puree and juice. They don't even sell canned tomatoes! Lots of fresh ones, though. And good chicken.

      2. I like Alton's Coq au Vin recipe. Of course the French would say it can't be coq au vin without an OLD chicken; and there's no such thing in America unless you raise your own <grin>...

        Tomato paste in small can on the canned tomato products aisle in any grocery...

        2 Replies
        1. re: KiltedCook

          The CI recipe is specifically adjusted for the young chicken issue since classic coq au vin recipes will result in dry chicken if you use a younger bird.

          I haven't cooked that recipe but would recommend having a look to see what they say. I've ended up with dry chicken a few times after following traditional recipes.

          1. re: KiltedCook

            "there's no such thing in America"

            Capon? Stewing hen?

          2. You might enjoy reading Jeffrey Steingarten's essay on coq au vin, from his monthlly Vogue column. It was published in It Must Have Been Something I Ate, a collection of his essays published in book form a few years ago. He's a very fun read.


            If you do try either Tyler or Alton's recipe, let us know how it goes. Good luck!

            1. I use a very old recipe from a paperback cookbook I got a million years ago. I don't believe I have ever put tomatoes -- either paste or otherwise -- in my coq au vin!

              5 Replies
              1. re: roxlet

                I also have a small paperback cookbook that I bought in the 60's that has a great but simple recipe for coq au vin- the price on the cover is 95 cents. No tomato! I wonder if it is the same book.
                Basically, saute a cut up chicken in a heavy fry pan with about 1/2 diced onion. Add some flour and cook until browned. Add 1 -2 cups red wine, about 2 cups chicken broth, about 12 small onions (white onions or cippolinis) and sliced mushrooms. Add 1 bay leaf and some thyme, salt and pepper. Cover and cook until chicken is tender. i like to cook for a long time And the sauce gets thickened. I am giving this off the top of my head, not exact recipe.

                1. re: emilief

                  Well, mine was far more expensive -- it cost $1.00! It's called The Art of French Cooking by Fernande Garvin published by Bantam, and it was the first French cookbook I ever had. After trying many recipes for Coq au Vin and also Beef Burgundy (as we used to call it), it is still my go-to recipe for those two dishes. I think it did call for a lot of pearl onions and I didn't know what they were exactly, and I was shocked that any dish could have so many onions. I finally figured it out. It also called for sliced mushrooms. I love this version!

                  1. re: roxlet

                    My book is called the same. I will have to look at the author but it seems to be the same book.LOL

                    1. re: emilief

                      Actually, I seem to think there was a set. I believe there was one called The Art of Italian Cooking as well, but I no longer have that one.

                      1. re: emilief

                        The Chicken Touraine recipe in that little gem of a book has been a Foodie family favorite for decades.

                2. Super secret for great coq au vin
                  Buy the already prepared jars of coq au vin sauce at Williams-Sonoma and follow the recipe. It was a holiday hit at my house. Cooking with pre-made sauces is something I never do but this was amazing.

                  1. I always use JCs recipe. there are many steps, but the onions and mushrooms can be cook entirely ahead, so that saves time. Once the chicken is simmering you dont have to do too much to it and you can make the whole recipe ahead- its better that way anyway.

                    1. Your profile gives Mazatlán as your location. So Italian tubes of paste or Williams-Sonoma shopping are probably out.

                      On the other hand you might have better luck at finding an old flavorful bird, the 'coq' in the name. In spirit the dish is just an old rooster cooked in the local wine with vegetables that a French country cook would have on hand. It also seems to be characterized by a generous use of bacon.

                      Any tomato product would substitute for the 2T of tomato paste (which is what the Joy of Cooking recipe calls for), especially if you are using an older bird that requires long cooking. A couple of fresh tomatoes would do fine. You could even get by with the Knor chicken-tomato instant bouillon powder that is used all over Mexico (adjusting for salt, of course). The tomato paste as flavor but is not a dominante part.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: paulj

                        Thanks, Paul and everybody! I was kind of surprised that so many recipes call for tomato paste, but apparently I can leave it out or substitute the puree or a cut-up tomato. I have never seen pearl onions here, either, but there are fresh small bulb onions that should work. I probably will go with Alton's recipe, and will let you know how it turns out.

                        1. re: MazDee

                          I think I know what you are referring to as small bulb onions. I'm starting find on a regular basis bunches of 'Mexican salad onions' - like green onions but with a more developed bulb.

                          I think the use of pearl onions in the stew is more a matter of presentation than taste. I wonder if it is typical of country kitchens, or an innovation by fancy restaurants.

                      2. My favorite is Bisto Jeanty's. I'm convinced the chocolate is what makes it so good!


                        4 Replies
                        1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                          The cocoa powder in that SF recipe moves this dish in a Mexican mole direction, though I've also seen Spanish stews with some chocolate. The cocoa may add dark color in the same way that tomato paste does.

                          1. re: paulj

                            Have you tried the recipe or tried it at the Bistro? It doesn't resemble a mole at all. The cocoa, IMVHO the cocoa really works well with the wine. It adds a nice a nice nuance.

                            1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                              I didn't mean to imply it was just like a mole. Moles are complex sauces, with nuts and chiles as the key ingredients. And not all moles have chocolate. But it does sound as though the chocolate/cocoa is used in both for a similar purpose - adding dark color, and a subtle complex flavor.

                              The OP is in Mexico, trying to figure out a substitute for tomato paste. The use of cocoa in this bistro recipe struck me as such a substitute, one that is quite consistent with cooking traditions in Mexico.

                              The New Spanish Table, in a Catalonian rabbit stew says "As with Mexican moles, chocolate contributes complexity and intrigue to the sauce without overpowering it." In fact this stew is closer to a Coq au vin, with 2 c of full-bodied red wine (per rabbit). It's heavier on the garlic than the French recipes, and adds some cinnamon and orange zest.

                              Another similarity - the bistro chicken uses 1/2c cognac (for 2 birds), the Spanish rabbit 1/4c of brandy.

                              I just bought a 5lb chicken, thinking of makeingsomething like coq au vin. Now I might just take it in that Catalan direction. I have chocolate, cinnamon, and oranges, but no pearl onions or mushrooms. I'll also have to use sherry instead of brandy.

                              1. re: paulj

                                Oh wow that rabbit stew sounds like it is to die for. I'll have to give it a try. Thanks for the inspiration.