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Poor man's coq au vin

(styling/karoline boehm goodnick; Essdras M Suarez/Globe Staff)
By Keri Fisher
March 25, 2009

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Serves 6

In the traditional French version of coq au vin, an older chicken (older in age, not in freshness) is cooked slowly in red wine with bacon, small white onions, and mushrooms for hours. The meat turns moist and tender in a rich sauce. If you want a faster, simpler version, begin with chicken thighs, which are more flavorful than white meat. Braising thighs in chicken stock, red wine, and red wine vinegar gives the meat a fine flavor. Saute mushrooms separately in butter to add extra creaminess to the sauce. Since chicken skin can get so flabby during cooking, pull the skin off the thighs before serving. It will already have released its fat and flavor into the sauce.

8bone-in chicken thighs (3 pounds total)
Salt and pepper, to taste
4tablespoons vegetable oil
3cups chicken stock
2cloves garlic, chopped
2medium onions, coarsely chopped
2medium carrots, coarsely chopped
1cup red wine
1/4cup red wine vinegar
2sprigs fresh thyme plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
5tablespoons butter
10ounces white mushrooms, quartered
1. Generously sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large skillet over medium high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Arrange the chicken thighs in a single layer, skin side down, and cook 4 minutes on a side or until the chicken is golden brown. Transfer to a plate.

2. Pour off most of the fat from the pan. Pour in 1 cup of the chicken stock. Scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any sediment. Tip the cooking juices out of the pan into a bowl; set aside. You'll use the skillet again later

3. In a large flameproof casserole over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the garlic, half the onions, and carrots. Cook, stirring often, for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned and softened.

4. Stir in the remaining 2 cups chicken stock, red wine, vinegar, and fresh thyme sprigs. Return the chicken to the pan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and cover the pan. Simmer for 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

5. Meanwhile, in the skillet, melt the butter. Add the remaining onion and mushrooms and cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes or until the onion softens and the mushrooms release their liquid. Turn up the heat and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the liquid almost evaporates.

6. Tip the mushroom mixture and sauce into the chicken mixture. Stir well until thoroughly combined. Add the chopped thyme. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Serve with steamed or mashed potatoes.