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Quick Coq au Vin

Serves: Makes 4 servings


  • 1 chicken (3½- to 4-pounds) or 2 whole boneless chicken legs plus 2 whole boneless, skinless breasts
  • 12 small pearl onions
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 4 large mushrooms (4 ounces), cleaned and quartered
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed and finely chopped (2 teaspoons)
  • 1½ cups fruity, dry, robust red wine (such as Syrah or Grenache)
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon potato starch dissolved in 2 tablespoons red wine

  • Croutons
  • 4 slices firm white bread (4 ounces)
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil


Traditionally, coq au vin, or chicken with red wine, had to be cooked for a long time because the coq ("cock"—an older chicken) was tough. Now the dish can be made quickly with tender parts either cut from a young chicken or bought separately at the market. I divide the chicken into pieces, remove the skin, brown it, and cook it in the red wine, adding the breasts at the end so they don’t get overdone. I glaze the onions separately in a little olive oil and sugar, stirring the mushrooms in near the end. Finally, I combine everything and serve it with large heart-shaped croutons.

If using a whole chicken, cut off the wings and cut them at the joints into 3 pieces each. Cut the chicken into 4 pieces: 2 breasts and 2 legs. Skin and bone the breasts. Set the breasts aside with the 4 meatier wing pieces. (Freeze the bones and wing tips for stock, if desired.)

To bone the chicken legs, first pull off the skin and cut the tips off the drumsticks. Then cut down each side of the thighbone and slide your knife under the bone to separate the meat from it. Holding the thighbone, cut all around the joint at the knee to loosen the meat. Scrape down the drumstick bone and pull out the bones. Set the legs aside with the breasts and wing pieces.

Put the pearl onions, 1 tablespoon of the oil, the sugar, and the water in a large saucepan, bring to a boil over high heat, and boil until the water has evaporated and the onions start frying. Continue to cook, stirring or shaking the pan occasionally, until the onions are glazed on all sides. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 1 minute. Set aside, covered.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet. When it is hot, add the chicken wing pieces, if you have them, and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, until lightly browned on all sides. Add the legs and brown for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Add the breasts and brown for 2 minutes on each side. Remove all the chicken pieces to a plate.

Add the chopped onion to the drippings in the skillet and sauté for 1 minute. Add the garlic and cook for about 10 seconds. Add the wine, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Return the legs and the wings to the pan, cover, and boil very gently for 5 minutes. Add the chicken breasts and boil gently for another 6 minutes.

Add the dissolved potato starch to the chicken and stir until the pan juices are thickened. Add the pearl onions and mushrooms, with their juices. Keep warm.

Croutons: Meanwhile, trim the crusts from the bread and cut each slice diagonally in half to form 2 triangles. Trim each triangle into a heart-shaped crouton.

Spread the oil on a cookie sheet and press the croutons into the oil so they are moistened on both sides. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until nicely browned.

At serving time, dip the top of each crouton into the sauce to moisten it and then into the chopped parsley. Cut the chicken breast pieces and legs in half, serve 1 breast piece, 1 drumstick or thigh, and if you have them, 1 piece of wing per person, with 2 croutons, along with some of the sauce and vegetables. Sprinkle the remaining chopped parsley over the chicken.

by Jacques Pépin, Poulets & Légumes

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