Fr. Z’s Kitchen: Pres. Obama Purple Chicken Edition

I was pretty irritated today by Pres. Obama’s cynical political statement, which undermines the bonds of society. Even though he stated – once upon a time – that in his presidency there wouldn’t be a “red” America or “blue” America, Pres. Obama fuels division upon division upon division.

Furthermore, since he stated that he wouldn’t “evolve” into an open promoter of unnatural unions as “marriage” before the Democratic Convention, Pres. Obama has shown himself to be a chicken in the face of pressure from advocates of homosexuality.

In honor of his craven political cynicism, I decided to make Coq au vin, which turns out rather purple (both red and blue at the same time) when made with red wine.

I started my process at about 5 pm, by prepping some salt pork.  This, by the way, is a modification of Julia’s recipe.  Cut the pork into small pieces and simmer in water for a while.  Then brown them in butter with a bit of olive oil to create the fat mixture in which you brown the chicken.


Once they are browned, extract them with a slotted spoon and side them aside.  DRY off your pieces of chicken (they brown better when dry) and brown them in the fat.  I used drumsticks and thighs which I got on a super sale.

Once browned, season with salt and pepper, and gently cook, covered, for 10 minutes.  Turn the pieces, and cook for another 10.

Rejoin the pork with the chicken.


Add about a 1/4 cup of brandy or cognac, let it warm for a moment, and light it on fire!


I assure you, there are blue and yellow flames as the alcohol is consumed.  You can see a hint of them in the bottom left.


Pour in your red wine.  I suggest something along the lines of a Merlot, nothing fancy.  But remember that if you use bad wine, your food won’t taste good.

Consult the book briefly just to get the timing.


Okay… about 20 minutes to simmer.

In the meantime, I have been braising little bitty onions and mushrooms.  I made a bouquet garnis, and braised them in butter and chicken broth.


When the chicken is done, remove to a different container.

Do not overcook the chicken, which is easy to do.


Turn the heat up under the cooking liquid while skimming fat off the top.  Reduce for a while.

In the meantime, start making a roux, which will be a thickener  of the gravy.


When the liquid is reduced, blend together with your wire whisk some of the cooking liquid with the roux and then rejoin the thick mixture with the rest of the liquid.

Serve your non-partisan purple chicken with the braised onions and mushrooms, with some of the great sauce.


I started at 5 pm and, after eating, cleaning up, storing the left-overs, and posting this, it is 7:30.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Tina in Ashburn says:

    You are a Master. Start at 5? Done by 7:30? And you had all the ingredients. I would have had to start around 10 AM.
    *whimper* oh it looks so good.

  2. kallman says:

    Very fast work. Did you use a higher than usual temperature? What did you serve on the side? What wine did you use? Color suggests a big red.

  3. kallman: Not much on the side: a piece of toast for mopping up purposes. Cheap Merlot, nothing fancy.

    Simple country-style food doesn’t have to be high test all the time. I had the little onions in the freezer. They are really useful. The mushrooms were on sale, as was the chicken. I also keep a piece of salt pork in the freezer. Even when frozen you can slice it easily and it adds depth when you need to brown.

    The best cooking I do, I think, involves solid technique applied to the simplest ingredients with a little creativity.

  4. ContraMundum says:

    OK, I have to ask: What did you eat growing up? You seem to have acquired something of a gourmet taste and the skill to match, I’m guessing from your time in Rome. Or am a wrong?

    To my suggestion that you collect your WDTPRS columns into a book, let me add the suggestion that you write a cookbook, too. I think you have a ready-made market for both books!

  5. ContraMundum: I had to fend for myself a lot, so I learned to cook at a young age. However, I worked as a cook for years before I went into seminary. I lived in Europe for a long time. I have a deep respect for the ingredients, too. It doesn’t show gratitude to God to take His gifts and then make crappy or uninteresting food out of them.

    Furthermore, you are perhaps laboring under a false impression. A lot of the things I make are not “fancy”. They are actually peasant food. We have, sadly, as a culture gotten away from simple from scratch cooking.

    However, a note about what I ate growing up.

    Usually, very simple food, to be sure. My mother – who was a cop – didn’t have a lot of time to cook, I’m afraid. When she did, she could do a great job. However, when I was about 7 I was quite purposely introduced to some fine things, namely, I was taken to a opera (the Met traveled in those years), Shakespeare plays on LPs, and a couple of good restaurants. I have a vivid memory of ordering Duck à l’Orange at a French restaurant and Hasenpfeffer at a German restaurant. They sounded cool! And when the waiter looked to my mother to see if it was okay, she always said, “That’s what he ordered!” So, I got used to be adventurous and having that sense of adventure rewarded by new tastes and experiences. That really makes a difference in your formative years.

    So, while I certainly can get fancy when I want to or need to, I also learned that food can be simple and really good.

  6. benedetta says:

    My son is at an excellent age to learn to cook and learn Latin (thanks, Fr. Z!)…We are going through short order type options at present, eggs, burgers, etc. but he expressed an interest in learning how to put together some more elaborate things and I am happy he is interested. I am sure it’s all wrong but he did say “big food” in Latin a few weeks ago. He is a chowhound as well. He also interestingly likes all manner of vegetables and I am showing him how to pick and choose. I think it’s a great skill to have so I am teaching him.

    Looks yummy, Fr. Z!

    [The key is, I think, to instill a real appreciation of very simple food as well.]

  7. ContraMundum says:

    They may be “peasant food”, but not “peasant food” from South Alabama! What you say doesn’t really surprise me, though; I think “peasant food”, from any culture, would tend to be my preference, even though I don’t think you would ever be able to convince me to like poached eggs, and I might not be able to convince you to like grits and tomato gravy.

  8. APX says:

    This was looking doable until I saw the words “reduce” and “roux”. Two things I fail at with cooking.

  9. APX: Reduce: Try putting on a small pan of water and boiling it. You will notice that, if you let it boil, there will eventually be less of it in the pan. You just “reduced”. This can be done with just about anything. You can reduce wine and make a wine sauce, cream and make a cream sauce, etc. Reduced water doesn’t really do it for me, however.

    Roux: After you practice with the water, in a small pan melt a couple pats of butter. When the butter is melted, add a couple tablespoons of flour. The flour will foam up as it starts to cook. Let it cook, gently, until it starts to pull together into a paste: roux. Use it to thicken, among other things, the wine and stock in which you made your coq au vin.

  10. Supertradmum says:

    Father, can you start posting recipes for persecuted Catholics on the run or living in caves? Maybe some one-pot recipes over open fires, and, sadly, no vino.

  11. JonPatrick says:

    When does the red wine go in? I didn’t see that in the sequence above.

  12. Kerry says:

    Bumper sticker: ” simplest ingredients … little creativity, OBAMA 2012.”

  13. Andrew says:

    Hac occasione forsitan oportet istud comedere cum pane de bubulo fimo cocto secundum quod prophetae Ezechieli dictum erat:
    “Et dixit ad me: “Ecce dedi tibi fimum boum pro stercoribus humanis, et facies panem tuum in eo ”. (Ezech. 4:15)

    Vel si fimum quis penitus abhorreat (item ac virum commutatum in uxorem), saltem sic sine fimo:

  14. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Good idea Father about slicing off frozen salt pork, which we too also have in our freezer. My husband makes beans all the time. I have hated beans until I had the ones he and his family make. Gotta have a bone or fat back to do ’em right. This applies to green beans too – husband abhors those crunchy undercooked ‘things’ so popular in restaurants today.

    Also, you can freeze gingerroot too and grate it as needed.

    Father your story about learning to cook as a child made me laugh. My son too had to do the same, as I was always working or exhausted. Except he refused to read the directions on the mac n cheese box resulting in no added liquid or unboiled noodles LOL. Eventually though he learned to be a wonderful cook and when invited over, many of his friends will ask him to do the cooking. He too learned a lot from some time in Rome. My own mother taught me in grade school how to make a roux as it has so many uses.

    Oh and my son is just NOW [after intense nuke Navy training and living on his own for so many years] accepting advice from others, including his mom. haha. Just this past Christmas holiday time, he stood still long enough to allow me to show him how simple roux is.

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