When we were dating, all the gift giving holidays were a big thing. I think we tried to out do each other. Our first Christmas together, I bought the new boyfriend (the now Hubs), an expensive watch that I could barely afford. (I did not chop off my hair ala “The Gift” but I did max out an over-maxed card.) He bought me a Kitchen Aid mixer. (That probably was the gift that sealed the deal for me.)
As we have aged together after seventeen years of marriage, we really don’t go all out for gifts. In fact, we have a no gift policy (that we often break).
Around the first of this month, The Hubs presented me with a beautiful 7-quart Staub emerald green cocotte. I was over the moon! He reminded me over and over that this was NOT an early Valentine’s Day present. (Yeah, right.)
We were going to make Boeuf Bourguignon for our inaugural dish, but remember on V-Day when I mentioned he had a surprise for me. Our favorite restaurant was serving “Rosemary & Local Mushroom Beef Bourguignon” for the main course and we didn’t really want to replicate a similar dish on Sunday (no matter how much we love Beouf. )
So, I pulled out my two favorite cookbook authors/editors, Dorie and Ruth, and set about finding something that would be worthy for a first dish in this remarkable pot!
I found a delicious sounding Coconut-Lemongrass Braised Pork in Around my French Table, but we both became reminiscent about Coq au Vin, a dish that The Hubs made me long ago. It was the first meal he cooked for me.
Coq au Vin Blanc with Carrots
based on Coq au Vin from The Gourmet Cookbook
10 oz. pearl onions
10 oz. thick cut bacon
1 (3 1/2 lb.) chicken, rinsed, patted dry and cut into 8 serving pieces
3/4 t. fine sea salt
1/4 t. fresh ground pepper
1 (4-inch) piece celery
6 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
1 fresh thyme sprig
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 c. dry white wine
3/4 c. chicken stock
16oz. baby carrots
2 T. olive oil
1 lb. sliced mushroom
1/4 c. Cognac
3 T. flour
1/12 T. butter softened
Bring a three quart sauce pan of water to a boil.
Wash onions. Blanch for 3 minutes and then remove to ice water. (This makes peeling them easier. ) Drain and peel.
Cut bacon into 1/4 inch strips. Add bacon to boiling water and boil for 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to another cold water bath. Drain bacon and pat dry with a paper towel.
Now, cook bacon in the bottom of your Dutch oven until it is browned but not crisp and most of the fat has been rendered (about 8 minutes). Transfer bacon with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels. Reserve two tablespoons of the bacon fat. Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt and pepper and brown in the bottom of the Dutch oven in the 2 T. of bacon fat. Turn chicken occasionally so it is browned on all sides (about 6-10 minutes). Transfer pieces to a plate.
Add onions to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally until onions are browned, about 10 minutes. While onions are browning, make a bouquet garni by wrapping the celery, parsley, thyme and bay leaf in a cheesecloth and tying with kitchen string. Add the bacon back to the Dutch oven and stir in wine and stock. Add carrots and bouquet garni, bring to a simmer. Add chicken. Simmer, covered, for 25 minutes.
While chicken is simmering, heat olive oil in a 12-inch skillet. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, for about 6 minutes (or until mushrooms have released their liquid. Add brandy and cook until liquid is reduced, about 3 minutes.
After chicken is cooked, use a slotted spoon and remove chicken, bacon and vegetables to a warmed serving platter. Discard bouquet garni. Using a fork, make a paste with the softened butter and the flour. (You have just made a beurre manié.) Bring the braising liquid to a simmer and whisk in the beurre manié a little at a time. Simmer, whisking constantly, until sauce is smooth and slightly thickened, about two minutes. Add mushrooms to sauce.
Season sauce with salt and pepper and spoon over the chicken, then sprinkle with more fresh parsley.
When The Hubs makes it, he uses red wine. I think I prefer this version, especially with the addition of the carrots. Our Coq au Vin Blanc made a delicious post Valentine’s Day meal (with plenty of leftovers).
And, I can’t rave enough about my Staub La Cocotte. It is truly a marvel. The chicken came out tender and juicy and the veggies were just perfect, not too crisp yet not mushy. I am on the hunt for more recipes to utilize my “Not for Valentine’s Day Gift.” If you have any superb Dutch oven recipes, please, please, please share. Shoot me an email or just copy the link in a comment below.
I want to cook with this every day.