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.
UPDATE 1905 GMT:
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.
UPDATE: 2028 GMT
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.
UPDATE 2141 GMT
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.
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.
UPDATE 21 June 1648 GMT:
I thought I would bring this to a conclusion by showing the coq au vin plated.
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.