Sunday, March 18, 2012

Coq au Vin and a Screw-up Story

Before I tell you about the Coq au Vin I want to share a story about one of my screw-ups in the kitchen. It wasn’t funny then, but I am amused now.

We asked a friend over to dinner and I had planned to make freshly baked French loaf, a chocolate dessert with fresh strawberries and of course this Coq au vin.

It was all planned and I had premeasured the flour for the bread the evening before. Ok…….we don’t have company very much so I guess I was excited and wanted it to be perfect. In the morning I put the water into the bread machine, pulled the bowl of premeasured dry ingredients out and set the timer on the machine, dough setting. Off to work....

We arrived home and sure enough, the machine was just finishing the dough cycle and I was to roll it out, shape it and set in the loaf pan to rise. Except it wasn’t right. I mean it didn’t look right and it didn’t feel right. (Revelation as I slap my hand to forehead). I added everything except the yeast. So this was never going to be a proper loaf of bread.
Look at the clock, panic sets in as I calculate whether I can still make a loaf of fresh bread and get dinner done at the agreed upon time.

Hustling, I drop the mass of flour into the garbage and clean the baking pan, set about measuring the bread flour. Again.. I start the machine. I doesn’t sound right. At all. I look through the viewing window and nothing is going on except the whirl and hum of the machine trying to work. It hits me, I had tossed the useless dough out WITH the kneading blade! Stop the machine. Dig in the trash and pull out the mass of floury gunk, delve my fingers inside and sure enough – there is the blade.

Wash the blade thoroughly, open the machine and I try to part the watery, floury about- to-be goopy adhesive-like dough to fit the blade on properly. I worry it won’t seat itself where it needs to so it can …knead. My hands were a sticky mess and I hoped essential amounts of salt and yeast weren’t being removed by my hands.

Long story ends well. It did, in fact, seat itself properly and the loaf was splendid. Just a tad late. Dessert was another story. Good…but not as planned either. Of all nights. We all still had a wonderful time and I hope our company will allow me to cook for her again.

Ok, here’s the dish From Williams-Sonoma's cookbook The Essentials of French Cooking.

Coq au vin
is a French dish that was originally made with the tough coq, or rooster, when it was past its prime. Poor old guy, those roosters. Worked hard all their lives, awakening the farmers and rejoicing at the morning sun. Took care of the chickens…….What’s his reward – get into the pot!

That being said……(and me not needing to take the life of my pet rooster) I very much enjoy this dish and I made this version with chicken thighs.

Coq au Vin

Browned, set afire (THAT was exciting) and then braised in wine and herbs, this dish is delicious and tender. It’s recommended to serve with whipped potatoes or polenta to soak up the rich bacony, brandied, wine and mushroom sauce. But I made rice and that was pretty darned good too.


6 slices of bacon

3 tablespoons butter

3 pounds cut up frying chicken (I used thighs)

1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons cognac

3 cups red wine

1/4 teaspoon thyme (I used fresh thyme from the garden)

1 bay leaf

12 or so baby onions

1 pound sauteed mushrooms

3 tablespoons flour

3 tablespoons softened butter


1) Cut the bacon crosswise into lardons (that’s fancy talk for snipping bacon with scissors into a pan). Place bacon in cold water and boil 10 minutes. Dry completely. Next, melt the 2 tablespoons butter in a heavy and large saucepan. Saute the bacon and the tiny onions until very lightly browned and transfer to a side dish

2) Add 1 tablespoon butter and place chicken into pan to brown. Season with salt and pepper, cooking slowly for 10 minutes total, turning the chicken as needed.

3) Toss in the bacon and onions. Sprinkle the flour over the chicken.

4) Here is a fun part! Remove your pan from the heat, Pour in the cognac or brandy. Off the heat, ignite the cognac, (Step back) with a lighted match or those charcoal lighters. Whoosh! That’s so cool to watch it ignite and see flames arise from your dish.

5) Place the pan back on the heat and pour the wine into pan. Stir in the garlic, and herbs. Bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer slowly for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and its juices run clear. Remove chicken to a side dish.

6) While the chicken is cooking, saute the mushrooms in a little bit of butter.

7) Tip the sautéd mushrooms into the pan with the chicken. Cook for a few minutes more

I love this Williams-Sonoma cookbook. Doug and I have been cooking from it all week. When we cook together it’s quite a bit of fun, each of us with our own “jobs” in the process and then sitting and enjoying over a glass of wine and good conversation.

For any fans of Williams-Sonoma's cookbooks.......I have a few more to share this week. Sharing this with Cookbook Sundays #15 at Sue's place!

Hope all is well in your world.



  1. Been there...done that; I must say your bread came out looking great!
    Your recipe for coq au vin sounds wonderful; saving this one.Haven't made this in years.

  2. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have screwed my meals in the kitchen! I have already lost a bread blade myself! Have absolutely no idea what ever happened to it. My guess is that it went at the same place where all the lost socks go lol. Anyway the loaf seems just perfect to me and Coq au Vin it is one of my favorite French dishes. The company is what matters sometimes dear and not the food! i am sure your guests had a great time with you!

  3. Oh I have had many of these nights, lol! Yesterday I threw away the vegetable peeler, the food porcessor blade and the cap to my oilive oil...ahh kitchen mishaps. In the end everything turned out fine and your coq au vin , bread look delish!! glad your comments are open!

  4. Oh no...what a time you had with that bread. I guess when you cook and bake as much as we do then it's bound to happen. I have entire weeks sometimes where everything I make sucks.

    That coq au vin looks inspiring. I love the deep dark color of the sauce. Delicious!

  5. Oh, I did have a chuckle reading your bread saga. I've done the forget to put the little kneading blade in the bread machine too, but my worst mishap I think was forgetting to put the salt in once. Seems like such a little thing, but bread made without salt is absolutely revolting.

    What is not revolting, on the other hand, is your Coq au Vin. It's actually a dish I've never made - something I need to rectify. Yours looks wonderful, so I've bookmarked this to try your version.

    Sounds like a great book. Thanks for sharing this at Cookbook Sundays - I'm only sorry it's taken me so long to visit. I've just started a new job, and seem to be having trouble keeping up with everything at present.

    Hope you had a wonderful weekend.

    Sue xo

  6. Thank you all so much for your nice comments. Thanks to Sue for hosting Cookbook Sundays!


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