Sunday Supper – 4

Once upon a time I asked you readers to determine whether I should make Coq au vin or Boeuf Bourguignon for a Sunday supper.  Julia Child

You decided on the beef and so I dutifully made Julia Child’s version from Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

It’s Sunday and time to make her version of Coq au vin, or Chicken in Red Wine.

I am going to scale the recipe down.  I got some chicken thighs on sale, but there is less chicken than the recipe calls for.  This shouldn’t be a problem with a recipe like this, which can bare improv.

First, I will start on the braised onions and the sauteed mushrooms.  I won’t scale this part down.  As a matter of fact I will probably double them both! Once they are done, I will turn my attention to the chicken.

I’ll post updates on the progress as I can.


Let’s do the onions first.

You need to make a little bouquet of herbs.

Make sure you have some cheesecloth and string before you start.

Peeling these little onions….grrr.

There are ways to make your life easier.

You can buy frozen pearl onions.

you can blanch them in water so that the outer skins slide right off.

As you can see, I am using more than the recipe.  I like onions.

Be sure to dry them well before you start the browning.  They will brown better and they won’t spit at you.

Brown by rolling them around a little.  You won’t get them to be uniformly brown.  Don’t try.

Add braising liquid.  I used a little red wine I had left over and some beef stock.

These are, after all, brown braised onions… Oignons glacés à brun.

Braise for about 45 minutes.

Saute the mushrooms in butter (Champignons sautés au beurre).

Don’t put too many in the pan at once.  Do them in batches.

Mushrooms have a lot of water content.  If you put too many together, they steam each other instead of browning.

These are portobello.

Okay… this part is done.

Time to move on to the chicken!

NOTE: After you get the chicken simmering, Child’s recipe suggest that you do the mushrooms and onions “while the chicken is cooking”.

Thus, always read a recipe through a couple times before you start so you can get the time line into your head and pull out what you need.

Avoid scrambling to find that thing you need at the very moment you have to have it.

Since you cook the chicken for 25-30 minutes, but you have to braise the onions for 40-50, you would have to…

  • start the onions browning,
  • then work on the browning of the bacon and chicken at the same time,
  • then start the onions braising,
  • and get the chicken browned and assembled and simmering,
  • then turn to saute the mushrooms while the covered chicken is cooking.

In other words you would have to coordinate your work.

If you choose this path, do all your prep ahead of time and heave everything laid out within reach.

You might draw up a little time line, or chart, chore plotted across the sheet against a vertical time line in 5 minute increments.

That is what I do when I make big meals for several (or many) people, involving several courses.  Use more than one timer.

I don’t have a very good work area and an very inadequate stove, thus I determined to make the onions and mushrooms ahead.  Simpler.

The respective recipes say they can be made in advance and reheated before serving.

More later.



First, you need to get some fat off the bacon and start the cooking process while shifting its flavor.

I like chop sticks for some things.

Brown the bacon.  Remove it.  Brown the chicken in the fat.

Put the bacon back in and cover and cook for a bit.

Add some cognac and flame.  You might be able to see the flame here.

Add your wine and then top up with beef stock.

Cook for 20 minutes.

Remove the chicken and start reducing the cooking liquid.

Read your breviary for a while.

Look out window… enjoy a different sort of bird.

This supper may be fit for a greater prelate, but all I have is this very wary cardinal.

More later.


Time to deal with the cooking liquid, soon to be sauce.

It has been reduced.

You must whisk in a paste of butter and flour … not a roux, which is cooked, but rather beurre manié.

I am obviously not using my hand – the usual way – to knead it together.

The recipe says that this should bring it to the point that the sauce will lightly coat a spoon.

It does.

Reassemble with your onions and mushroom for later…. or right away… whatever.


Enjoy the view of PENJING AND THE BONSAIS.

Penjing is slowly recovering.

When I got back from NYC, Irohamomji was dramatically leafed out and Penzai had also bushed up.

More later!

UPDATE 21 June 1648 GMT:

I thought I would bring this to a conclusion by showing the coq au vin plated.

And then…

Note the instrument for the lifting of the sauce.

Given that in some company it is considered uncouth to wipe the plate with bread… just a step above licking it…  the better restaurants in France will normally provide you with that that tool of inestimable value, the cuillère à sauce individuelle, which I believe God created on the 8th day.

“But Father! But Father!”, I can hear some of the readers about to object as they toss their Taco Bell wrapper onto the floor, “What’s wrong with licking the plate?”

Consider the lot of the unworthy soldiers in Gideon’s army!

No, no.  It is better to raise the sauce than lap at it.

Here is the spoon.

It is instantly recognizable by the curious notch, which must have no other function than to let you recognize it instantly when the table is arrayed as if it were next to a surgeon.

I don’t know what the sinister, left-handed will do.

They have to shift their bearings, I suppose.

It is quite flat, but not quite flat.

I have four of these gizmos, which number works out well since I nearly never set a table for more.

Once again, make plans for Sunday meals with others.

Families who eat together tend to have stronger bonds.

Invitations to meals, especially to those who are alone, can be a great source of consolation, a real work of mercy.

From John Paul II’s Dies Domini:

72. The Eucharist is an event and programme of true brotherhood. From the Sunday Mass there flows a tide of charity destined to spread into the whole life of the faithful, beginning by inspiring the very way in which they live the rest of Sunday. If Sunday is a day of joy, Christians should declare by their actual behaviour that we cannot be happy “on our own”. They look around to find people who may need their help. It may be that in their neighborhood or among those they know there are sick people, elderly people, children or immigrants who precisely on Sundays feel more keenly their isolation, needs and suffering. It is true that commitment to these people cannot be restricted to occasional Sunday gestures. But presuming a wider sense of commitment, why not make the Lord’s Day a more intense time of sharing, encouraging all the inventiveness of which Christian charity is capable? Inviting to a meal people who are alone, visiting the sick, providing food for needy families, spending a few hours in voluntary work and acts of solidarity: these would certainly be ways of bringing into people’s lives the love of Christ received at the Eucharistic table.

And don’t forget to pray before and after meals.

BEFORE: Benedic, Domine, nos et haec tua dona quae de tua largitate sumus sumpturi. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

AFTER: Agimus tibi gratias, omnipotens Deus, pro universis beneficiis tuis, qui vivis et regnas in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

and… Fidelium animae per misericordiam Dei requiescant in pace. R. Amen.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Fr. Z's Kitchen, PRAYERCAzT: What Does The (Latin) Prayer Really Sound L and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Geoffrey says:

    I’ve been waiting weeks for this! :-)

  2. jpjackson says:

    It sounds like you could start working your way through the book…maybe a new recipe every Sunday? Then you could could have a blog post about each one, and then someone out there will notice and think, “Wow, that’s pretty cool that someone is making every recipe in ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’, why don’t we make a movie about his adventures?”

    …wait a minute…that’s starting to sound familiar. =)

  3. jpjackson: And I have finally seen that movie, too. But… noooo… not going to do that. The fact is that I recently received Mrs. Child’s books and my interest spiked a bit.

  4. Joel says:

    Happy Father’s Day Padre.

    Enjoy the meal.

  5. Joel: Thanks for the Father’s Day greeting!

  6. openmind says:

    Father, do you have any nutritional information for your suppers, specifically carbohydrates? I am diabetic and take insulin, but would love to try my hand at some of your recipes!

  7. Jane says:

    Our area had a wonderful Medieval Fair recently and a lady was cooking this dish. My husband took a picture and I asked the lady for instructions on how to make the dish. I put the picture and information up on my blog at the following link:

  8. openmind: do you have any nutritional information for your suppers, specifically carbohydrates?

    None whatsoever. Though I have been reminded by a cardiologist on one of these Sunday Supper posts that I am soon going to keel over, as every bite of what I make from Julia’s book is going straight to my left anterior descending… or words to that effect….

    There is a lot of butter in this, some olive oil, some bacon fat, a little chicken fat. I trimmed the chicken pretty well, considering that this was supposed to be an old rooster I was cooking.

    I can only add that it is common to serve coq au vin with butter flat egg noodles.

    Perhaps someone has worked out the nutrition information of the recipes in Julia Child’s book.


  9. Jane: Very interesting. I think it would be great to cook like that once in a while.

    I have cookbooks of ancient Roman and of Medieval recipes. They would provide good candidates.

    Perhaps next time I will have to go ancient.

  10. Geoffrey says:

    “Read your breviary for a while.”

    I thought I was the only one who did this while cooking!!!

    Another excellent post! I will be printing this one out for further study.

    What wine will you be serving?

  11. Girgadis says:

    Wow! What a gorgeous dinner. It looks perfect. And your Twins didn’t do too badly either. Jim Thome got a standing ovation when he homered yesterday. Wonder if the reaction would have been the same had the fans realized our bullpen would collapse and give up 9 runs to lose the game?

    Anyway, Happy Father’s Day to you and all our fathers, ordained and otherwise.

  12. Patikins says:

    openmind (and anyone else who might be interested):

    You can get an estimate of the nutrients in any recipe using the tools at
    It’s not perfect (not every possible ingredient is in the database) and you have to be careful to use a multiplier to adjust for the quantity used in the recipe. Also, if you’re cooking in fat and most of the fat remains in the pan the fat content will be artificially high. Ditto with other ingredients where an excess is needed such as flour to dredge fillets, etc.

  13. Patikins says:

    BTW, Father, this looks wonderful! And happy father’s day to one of my spiritual fathers. :)

  14. Geoffrey: What wine will you be serving?

    I used the other bottle of wine I had bought on sale at the time I made the boeuf.

    It served for the cooking and the meal.

    And I did have to get that breviary read, after all.

  15. doanli says:

    I can see our cardinals (birds) are more fat than what you have there! :)

    Food looks dee-lish, Father. Too bad I don’t like cooking!

  16. HighMass says:

    Fr. Z, Happy Fathers Day! Also think that Your chicken dish deserves a Biretta Tip! :)

    From an Italian American……Boun Appetito!

  17. wanda says:

    Thank you for sharing your meal and all that goes into it. I feel like I’m looking over your shoulder in the kitchen. It makes it seems not so impossible to try. Looks wonderful, I bet it was delicious, too. (I voted for this dish way back when.) What did you serve as side dishes? Dessert? Any finished product/plate pictures? Glad to see your bonsai trees are perking right along, too.

    Happy Father’s Day, Fr. Z. You really are a spiritual father..I’m a little wistful this last week or so, found out our much loved Assoc. Pastor has a new assignment and will be leaving. He offered an EF Mass in a tiny chapel in a nearby sister parish on his one day off. I hadn’t been in years. How he and the EF Mass will be missed.

  18. Geoffrey says:

    “Perhaps someone has worked out the nutrition information of the recipes in Julia Child’s book. Anyone?”

    No, but I do have this quote from Mrs. Child:

    “During those halcyon years of the sixties the solemn subject of nutrition had not raised its head, and the recipes in this book represent that happy guilt-free era. I have not changed them at all. I leave it up to you to edit them yourself as you go along…
    Certainly one of the best ways to good health is to follow a well-balanced diet and the motto of the American Institute of Wine and Food: Moderation, Small helpings, A great variety of food, No snacking, Weight watching and sensible exercise, Above all–HAVE A GOOD TIME” (Julia Child, “The French Chef Cookbook”).

  19. Geoffrey: Great quote!

  20. wanda: I kept it simple: a lettuce salad with vinegrette after the chicken. No dessert other than a piece of fruit. No pre-prandials either!

  21. UbiCaritas says:

    Happy Father’s Day, Father Z! I’ll be remembering you in my prayers this evening.

    Also, I thoroughly enjoy all of your cooking posts. Me, I came home from Mass this evening (the Tridentine is said at 5:30 PM at my church) and promptly stirred up a risotto which would probably cause the aforementioned cardiologist to look upon the pan in horror. (Much butter and parmesan was used…mmmm.)

  22. wanda says:

    ? Pre-prandials ? I must consult a dictionary!

  23. wanda says:

    Something before the meal! Gotcha.

  24. biretam says:

    And to think, we in the restaurant industry must time every dish for every table every night… What fun!!!

    Thank you and Happy Father’s Day, Father Z.

  25. biretam: we in the restaurant industry must time every dish for every table every night

    Been there. Done that.

  26. pvmkmyer says:

    Father: I don’t know if you did this one additional step or not, but to get a more authentic French taste Julia recommends blanching the bacon in boiling water for a couple minutes first, before frying it up, because French bacon is not smoked like our bacon.

    Do try her boeuf bourguignon some day. It is just as fabulous. The woman was a genius in the kitchen.


  27. lacrossecath says:

    Happy Fathers Day!

  28. wanda says:

    pvmkmyer, Father Z. did make the boeuf bourguinon! Check the May archives, along the left
    side of the page. It looked fabulous.

  29. pvmkmyer: You might go back and read the top entry.

    I have tried the Booeuf. As a matter of fact, I said I did at the very top of the top entry and provided a link to the page where I described its making.

    Also, I did blanch the bacon for this recipe, as well as for the Boeuf. I included pictures of this very step in the top entry.

  30. wanda says:

    Aha, I have seen one or 2 of those curious spoons. Never quite knew their purpose. Yours looks well used. I am a bread swiper myself, liking to sop up any remnant of tasty broth or gravy. Thank you for the pictures of your lovely meal and for the reminder to pray before and after meals.

  31. AnAmericanMother says:

    Father –

    Another great online meal!

    It makes perfect sense when cooking the coq au vin to prepare the onions and mushrooms ahead of time. Miz Julia calls for the same ingredients in the boeuf bourguignon . . . which takes FAR longer to cook than even a tough old rooster, so there’s plenty of time to braise the onions and saute’ the mushrooms if you’re doing the beef.

    After you’ve cooked something a time or two, you have a sense of what can be safely modified. At least, it takes me that long to venture.

  32. irishgirl says:

    ‘Ancient and medieval recipes’? Ooooo, sounds interesting-even though I can’t cook such fancy meals as you do, Father Z! I’m the kind of cook that, ‘if it doesn’t come out of a can or a box’, I’m clueless!

    That spoon for ‘lapping up the gravy’ looks rather cool, too!

    Re the ‘Dies Domini’ quote: there was no mention of single people who are alone through choice or circumstance, like me! I don’t have very many friends, and the ones I do have are either married with children/grandchildren or have a demanding job/vocation that takes up all their time. I’m alone most of the time, and so if I don’t cook at home alone, then I go out to eat alone. I hate ‘begging’ for company! Makes me feel like the proverbial ‘fifth wheel’….

    Sorry for the ‘sour’ ending to my post-I guess it’s been ‘growly Monday’ for me!

  33. irishgirl: First, I must reject your premise. This was a recipe for a countryside or peasant dish. Don’t let the French name and some different techniques fool you.

    Second, yes, you can make this. Just try it sometime.

  34. JohnW says:

    Father I would like to invite you to our home for dinner when you come to Houston, but I’m afraid we may not be able to cook to your high standards. I think though you would enjoy our southern hospitality.

  35. irishgirl says:

    Father Z-I’d try it if I had the tools, the patience…and the funds to buy the ingredients!

    I don’t like mushrooms or onions, though….never acquired a taste for them!

  36. irishgirl: I’d try it if …

    You don’t need special tools.

    The ingredients are not expensive.

    Make a different vegetable if you don’t like onions or mushrooms.

    This is cooking, not brain surgery… well… mostly not brain surgery unless you are making sweetbreads, of course.

  37. jucundushomo says:

    Pater reverendissime-

    A small question: Who published your breviary? Do you like it?

    I am using a 1962 Roman diurnal at the moment but would love to find a good 1962 Roman Breviary until Baronius Press comes out with theirs.

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