The recipe below looks and sounds a lot like a French recipe, doesn't it?
For the month of June, I've decided to feature the recipes, tips and techniques from my favorite chefs. I think because I'm reluctantly leaving France (well, their food to be more specific), I may have subconsciously chosen a French recipe from my all-time favorite chef, Anne Burrell.
Anne Burrell is a professionally trained chef and culinary celebrity. She is a graduate of and instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. In addition to hosting her Food Network show, Secrets of a Restaurant Chef, she also co-hosts the popular Food Network series, Worst Cooks in America, where she remains undefeated. On a personal note, if you've never seen Worst Cooks in America, you have to watch it. It's probably the most entertaining hour you'll spend watching tv in any week. Two notable chefs, Lidia Bastianich and Mario Batali helped propel Anne Burrell to fame and she continues to serve as sous chef to Batali in Food Network's Iron Chef series. What I like best about Chef Burrell is that she explains what she's doing and why as she prepares recipes in a very entertaining manner. Although she's a gifted and talented chef, you get the impression she doesn't take herself too seriously and that she likes to have fun in the kitchen. She makes me believe I can cook. She makes me want to cook.
This week I'm preparing a dish inspired by Chef Anne Burrell: Coq au Vin. I converted my recipe to slow cooker recipe (à la Michele Scicolone's The French Slow Cooker) to avoid heating up the kitchen now that summer is almost upon us. Coq au Vin is a French braise of chicken and the name translates to "rooster with wine". You can use a regular chicken if you can't find a capon (rooster), but Anne highly recommend searching one out. Capons are generally bigger than a chicken so, if you are using a capon or chicken larger than a 4 pounds, double the ingredients shown below.
Slow Cooked Coq au Vin
1 (3 - 4 pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces
all-purpose flour for dusting
1/4 pound bacon, cut into lardons
1 clove garlic, smashed
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 cup water
2 cups hearty red wine
2 ribs celery, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 pound potatoes, cut in 1-inch slices (peeled or unpeeled, it's up to you)
1/2 pound cremini or white button mushrooms, gently cleaned & cut in quarters
2 - 3 cups chicken stock
1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp. dried thyme
1 bay leaf
Chives, finely chopped, for garnish
Coat a large skillet or dutch oven with olive or vegetable oil and place over medium-high heat. Pat the chicken pieces dry with a paper towels and season generously with salt. Add about a cup of flour to a shallow dish. Working in batches, coat the chicken with flour and place the pieces immediately into the hot oil. Only flour the chicken pieces you are working with - no pre-flouring! This will result in doughy chicken. And work in batches so you don't crowd the pan, otherwise the chicken won't brown properly. Brown the chicken on all sides. Place the browned chicken pieces on a paper towel-lined plate or platter and allow the excess oil to drain off.
Add the bacon to the oil in the skillet or dutch oven. Cook until the bacon is browned and crispy. Drain off any excess oil or fat. Add the garlic, tomato paste and water and cook until the mixture has reduced and become thick. Stir in the wine and bring to a boil; cook for 4 - 5 minutes until the mixture has reduced by half. Add 2 cups of chicken stock, the thyme and bay leaf to the mixture and stir to combine.
Combine the celery and onions in the crock of your slow cooker; spread evenly. Add the potatoes and mushrooms. Lay the chicken pieces on top of the vegetables and pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables. If necessary, add more chicken stock so that the chicken and vegetables are completely covered. Cover and cook on low for 6 - 8 hours. Occasionally, check the level of the liquid and add more chicken stock, if necessary.
To serve: remove the chicken and vegetables from the slow cooker and place on a rimmed serving platter. Cover loosely with foil to keep warm while you finish the sauce. If the sauce is on the thin side, pour it into a saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Bring the sauce to a boil and reduce it until it becomes thicker and has a more "sauce-like" quality. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and vegetables, sprinkle with chopped chives and you are ready to serve. A loaf of warm French bread and a side salad compliments this dish very nicely.