Coq au Vin help
Dear Hounds: Gotta little problem I need your expertise on. I live in a condo (naturally, not that much space!) and have 20 pounds of chicken quarters in my freezer right now. I am having about 15 people over for dinner this coming Thursday, and my plan is Coq au Vin.
It is a surprise birthday party for my friend, so I wanted to do something special for dinner and finally settled on Coq au Vin, which I am insanely crazy about and have fixed many times in the past - just never in a large quantity.
My plan was to cook the chicken, cool it, take off the bone, and --- fast forward to finished product --- serve over egg noodles in disposable bowls since people will more than likely be eating on their laps (didn't want to worry about knives, and needed a one-dish meal).
My quandary is that (since it had been a while since I had made Coq au Vin) I had forgotten the chicken is initially browned in bacon drippings and lit with cognac before adding all the other luscious ingredients. I had been thinking of simply baking the chicken and then adding to the wine, mushroom, etc. mixture in several big dutch ovens and serving from there.
Any tips that come to mind on how to prepare this in advance so I don't lose the je ne sais quoi of the coq au vin given the limited space (serving space, and space in my refrigerator) I am dealing with?
Well... yes, but mostly no. The flavor was there, but I had a "helper" in the kitchen that put two big packages worth of [cooked] egg noodles directly into the three dutch ovens of coq au vin when I wasn't looking. I was crushed! The flavor was good, but not where it should have been. And at that point, it was a big, big mess.
But up until then, this is what I did, and think all in all it would have been mostly a success given the amount I was preparing.
I baked 20 pounds of chicken quarters with butter and herbs de Provence, cooled them, and pulled the chicken into pieces the day before the surprise party. The chicken itself tasted fabulous, so I was happy with that since I couldn't brown that much in cognac, etc.
The next day (day of party), I did the mushrooms, onions, broth, wine, etc mixture several hours before the party and let the onions and mushrooms get good an soft/marinated. I didn't want to put the chicken in too soon for fear of possibly overcooking it (I wasn't sure *when* was too soon). I put the chicken in about two hours before serving and it tasted c'est magnifique!
So far, so good. I cooked off the egg noodles to have ON THE SIDE in case anyone wanted them as a base, and my dear friend's sweet boyfriend (in an effort to be helpful) thought they were supposed to go into the Coq au Vin, and in went (what was in my eyes) 1,000 pounds of noodles into three large Dutch ovens. Boooo Hoooooo. It was a big gloppy mess. And the noodles sucked up so much sauce that it took away from the dish itself.
So. All I could do was enjoy my iced vodka at that point and fuhgidabbouit. He didn't mean to.
I might try this endeavor again with a large group, but I will have to remain The Sovereign Master of the Kitchen if I do!
I totally understand your desire to make this dish easy to eat so here's my suggestion. On Tuesday, I would turn the raw chicken into bite size pieces--a lot of work yes but I think worth it. Then I would use all the bones to make a really rich chicken stock, which you can start on top of the stove and then finish in the oven. While that is cooking, you could prep all the other ingredients--onions, bacon, mushrooms etc, On Wednesday, I would then proceed with the recipe, browning the pieces quickly, flaming with Cognac etc and then finishing the whole dish in the oven in your Dutch ovens with that wonderful stock as part of the liquid. Come Thursday, reheat them on the stove top and either keep warm there, or it you need the room, let it reheat in the oven. Some people believe a dish like this is better the second day--flavors meld and all--and that would give you time to prepare everything else for the evening.
I suggest making it in batches in your slow cooker; attached 'receipt' [as we say down south] is a pretty good one. My experience is that slow cooker coq au vin is pretty darn good the day or two after. I have a relatively big All Clad slow cooker, with it, two batches would easily feed fifteen:
A low stress variant on coq au vin. By omitting the classic beurre manié, it is a little lighter and less gloppy than the traditional version.
· 500 ml Merlot (use something you would drink)
· 1 carrot, chopped roughly
· 2 celery stalks, chopped roughly
· 1 red onion, quartered
· 4 cloves garlic, halved
· 5 sprigs fresh thyme
· 1 bay leaf
· 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
· 4 free range/organic chicken thighs
· 3/4 cup low sodium chicken stock
· 1 oz dried porcini mushrooms (rinsed)
· 5 rashers bacon
· 3/4 cup pearl onions (the pre-peeled frozen ones are a real time saver)
· 3/4 cup baby carrots halved crosswise
· 2 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
· 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
· 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
· 1 bay leaf
· 1 teaspoon green peppercorns (preferably brined)
· 12 baby new potatoes (I used a mix of yellow and purple)
· 1 tablespoon arrowroot dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
Combine the first 9 ingredients in a 1 gallon zip-lock plastic bag and marinate in the refrigerator overnight, turning and mixing several times.
Strain the marinated mixture, reserving the wine. Pick out the chicken thighs and dry on paper towels. Discard the veggies.
Put the wine in the slow cooker with the stock and mushrooms.
Fry the bacon in a large skillet. When cooked through remove to paper towels, drain, crumble into small pieces, and put into a small plastic zip lock bag. Place in refrigerator.
In the bacon drippings over medium-high heat brown the chicken thighs on all sides (about 4 minutes per side). Remove and drain on paper towels.
Remove all but about 1 tablespoon of fat from the skillet. Reduce heat to medium-low and sweat the onions, carrots, and garlic until the former are translucent (about 8 minutes). Season the onion/carrot mixture with the salt and pepper as it cooks.
Put the chicken and onion/carrot mixture in slow cooker, set the time to 4 hours and the temperature to low.
After 3 hours, add the bay leaf, the potatoes, the green peppercorns, and the reserved bacon bits. Cook 1 more hour.
Using a slotted spoon, remove chicken and veggies to warm plates. (Toss away the bay leaf.) Use a fat separator to degrease the liquid. Heat defatted liquid over high heat in a small sauce pan. When it comes to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and add the dissolved arrowroot. Stir one minute and then pour sauce over the chicken and veggies.