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Winter is approaching – the days are becoming shorter i. e. daylight is really low some days. When cooking this approach to coq au vin we had one of these days… In the evening when my drunken chicken was finally ready I had to use additional artificial light for the photos – sorry: I always prefer natural light, but now when the sun decides to vanish sometime between 4 pm & 5 pm…
For the record:
I try to use always natural light because of my aim to capture reality. It’s a fact that artificial light changes the color spectrum – which may be advantageously for the quality of photos depending what you intend to do. Of course there are also means to create a natural light environment in a studio.
For my approach: I don’t have a studio – all my photos are shot in my kitchen. So I can’t rely on any sophisticated equipment nearby.
Coming to my drunken chicken!
We are also approaching Xmas season meaning that since last week I feel like drowning in posts presenting Xmas cookies, Xmas shortbread, Xmas cakes or simple the best baking recipes for Xmas of all times. Therefore I decided to skip any attempts for Xmas baking so far & rely on a delicious roast especially during the cold season.
Before trying coq au vin I made a deep dive into my cookbooks & preferred food blogs. Of course Julia Child provided the general guideline for this type of roast. I admit that it’s somewhat complicated especially w/ her idea of flambéing the liquid… & it takes a lot of preparation time.
I also found that there are different ideas about how long the chicken pieces shall be marinated in red wine before cooking. Some people recommend to start 1 day before so that the chicken pieces may indulge in red wine for at least the whole of the night – others add the red wine as soon as the cooking starts.
Then I found a very attractive recipe on Half Baked Harvest using a slow cooker for the slowly simmering of the whole mess. Read & done – w/ some minor adjustments.
For the record:
A friend told me that she used her dutch oven instead of the slow cooker for a recipe of Italian ragout where I used the slow cooker. I think it’ll work also w/ the drunken chicken. (I sometimes prefer the slow cooker because it doesn’t block my electric range for hours.)
So – let’s start!
What do we need?
Forst of all we need chicken pieces:
- chicken breast
- chicken legs
- … & butter for the frying.
All of them came from free-range chicken appropriately fed & country-bred.
- bacon (cured or fresh)
- dried thyme
- bay leaves
- tomato purée
- chicken stock
- red wine.
At first we fry the chicken pieces in butter for about 10 min until they are browned – just a little. Afterwards place them trustingly in he slow cooker.
In the same pan – w/o cleaning – add bacon & onion. During the frying of the chicken pieces you’ve had enough the to chop the vegetables. (…& go on chopping the mushrooms & the carrots!).
Fry the onion & the bacon for about 10 min until soft. If using fresh bacon add some salt & pepper to taste; if using cured bacon add only some pepper.
Add the pressed garlic & the mushrooms & fry for another 10 min.
Careful: it shouldn’t get burnt!
Finally empty you pan into the slow cooker on top of the chicken pieces.
The carrots march also in the slow cooker as well as the herbs & the tomato purée.
Finally fill the slow cooker w/ the chicken stock & the red wine.
I planned to use a bottle of red wine i. e. 750 ml. Unfortunately my slow cooker’s capacity was insufficient – only about 500-600 ml made it. The result was fine. Well: I don’t think it’s a problem to add more red wine… you’ll be rewarded w/ more delicious sauce!
Now it’s time to put on the lid, start the slow cooker on high temperature & let it do its duty for the next 5 h.
Voilà – 5 h later!
- 2 chicken breasts about 350 - 400 g w/o bones
- 2 chicken legs about 500 - 600 g with bones
- 2 tbsp butter
- 75 - 100 g bacon
- 1 big red onion
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- 250 g mushrooms
- 4 carrots about 400 g before trimming
- 500 - 600 ml red wine
- 400 ml chicken stock
- 1 can tomato purée about 70 g
- a pinch of sugar
- 1 tbsp dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1-2 tsp potato or corn starch - OPTIONAL
- a slow cooker
- a handheld blender
- Fry the chicken pieces in butter for about 10 min; add salt & pepper; turn the chicken pieces over from time to time.
- In the meantime chop the onion & the bacon.
- Place the chicken pieces in the slow cooker.
- Fry the onion & the bacon in the same pan w/o cleaning; add salt & pepper.
- Add the pressed garlic.
- In the meantime chop the mushrooms.
- After about 10 min add the mushrooms & fry for another 10 min. Careful: nothing shall get burnt.
- In the meantime chop the carrots.
- Empty the pan into the slow cooker.
- Add the carrots to the slow cooker.
- Pour the red wine as well as the chicken stock into the slow cooker.
- Add the tomato purée w/ a pinch of sugar, the dried thyme & the bay leaves.
- Close the lid of the slow cooker & let it cook on high temperature for at least 5 hours.
- Remove the chicken pieces - keep warm.
- Remove most of the vegetables & the bacon (let’s say about 90 %!) - keep warm.
- Discard the bay leaves.
- Smooth the liquid w/ the rest of the vegetables using a handheld blender.
- Add salt & pepper to taste.
- If it’s too runny - it mostly is - bring it to a boil & add some starch solved in water.
How to proceed?
At first place the chicken pieces on a plate. The chicken is very very tender & tends to fall apart from the bones.
Then fish the vegetables out of the liquid. Take care to lay hand on the bay leaves & discard them. The vegetables will be served together w/ the chicken pieces.
If there is some time left before serving just put the chicken pieces & the vegetables back into the slow cooker – after having saved the liquid in a bowl or pot – & set it on holding.
Finally coming to the sauce…
You won’t need to fish out all of the vegetables – about 10% can stay where they are. Fill the liquid in an appropriate bowl or pot & use use your handheld blender to mash everything. Add salt & pepper to taste. If you think the sauce is to runny just bring it to a boil, add some corn starch or potato starch )about 1-2 tsp) solved in cold water (about 3-4 tbsp) to thicken the sauce slightly.
…ahem… the sauce won’t be be totally silky & smooth: some bits remain – I like it so. Full stop.
(Of course you may use more & stronger blending, additional straining… to produce whatever grade of silkiness, smoothness you prefer!)
You’ll get a very lot of sauce! You’ll get much more sauce you’ll need for your drunken chicken dinner. (B. t. w. we enjoyed the it w/ wonderful creamy mashed potatoes!)
There is no problem to freeze some of the sauce. It is a rather strong sauce on a background of red wine, w/ the sweetness of carrots & onions, w/ the spicy edge of onion & pepper, the fine bitterness of bay leaves… (I almost succeeded in approaching a flavor description as the wine connoisseurs do!).
The businesswoman w/ too many office hours thinks
Okay , okay – at the end it’s just starting w/ sustainable chicken, some vegetables & herbs & lots of red wine. I need time – hours… however, fortunately it’s just the slow cooker working on its own w/ o my permanent supervision & lots of action!
…& important: get a pot resp. slow cooker large enough for the red wine!