Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Coq au Vin (Kosher !)

Oh, the French !!  Their cuisine never ceases to AMAZE me !  It seems that almost every time I make a French recipe, it's delicious.....because it's French ! Last year I went to Portland, Oregon with my mother, Sonje. Her friend Lorna, took us to the historic Heathman hotel,which has a French restaurant. There I ordered Coq au Vin for the first time. Oh boy, now that's an award winning dish !   I recently made it for the first time, when I had my mother and brother Brett over for the last night of Hanukkah. When I tasted it at the dinner table, I swooned and let out an "Oh yum" under my breath. I know that it isn't polite to brag about the food you've just made, but oh boy, this was good ! Why haven't I made Coq au Vin before !!??  It was probably out of ignorance and fear, that the recipe was going to be too complicated. Man, I didn't know what I was missing ! G-d has really blessed the French with out-of-this-world inspiration in their recipes ! Some dishes are rustic and comforting, and others are sophisticated and very elegant. Many recipes are actually easy to make, with many not  having a lot of ingredients ! On another note...but speaking of the French...Why don't we forget the word "Diet" and eat more sensibly and enjoyably like they do....Eating healthy, balanced meals...lots of colorful,fresh ,in-season, organic vegetables...avoiding foods made with white sugar and white flour, 6 days a week, and fried foods...having fresh fruit for dessert...and one day a week having a high quality,small sweet dessert if desired (Optional,like a pastry from a French bakery). I also like to have a small handful or two of Lily's Dark Chocolate Chips, that are sweetened with stevia, for a little snack mid-day. I found them at Whole Foods Market. We don't have to torture ourselves with weird,unbalanced diets !!! Oh, and exercise every other day helps tremendously too !!! The French walk a lot !!!
   A typical Coq au Vin recipe uses bacon, I would imagine, for flavoring. I read in the Bible that the Lord doesn't want us eating pork and shellfish, (When the Creator of these creatures say not to eat them, I believe He knows what he's talking about ! So, I abstain !) So, I decided to look for a recipe that left the bacon out. To my delight, I found Jaime Geller's two recipes online, and then it dawned on me that I have her "Joy of kosher" cookbook !  After making and tasting this divine recipe, I thought ...who needs the bacon ??!!  So here 's an adaption of Jaime's recipe for "Coq au Vin with Veal Sausage, Thyme, and Merlot", minus the veal sausage. I recommend using small organic chicken legs and small or boneless thighs, as I think the sauce will infuse it's flavor better than if you are using thick,less tender breasts.I also added carrots to this recipe. This entree would also be delicious served with garlic mashed potatoes. sprinkled with some chopped parsley !
  P.S. So don't be afraid to try a new recipe, even if it's French ! This stint on this earth is short, and there are a bazzzzilion recipes out there !! Add something new to your repertoire !! (Repetoire is a French word as many so called English words are !) Oh, and by the way....cook with fresh vegetables....old mushrooms taste like old mushrooms....old potatoes taste like old potatoes, etc., etc..

                               Coq au Vin with Thyme and Merlot

2 tablespoons olive oil
One 3 1/2-pound chicken cut into 8 pieces
   (I  also used a 3 1/2 pound package of organic thighs from Costco)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup peeled pearl onions (fresh or frozen)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
one 750 ml bottle merlot (I found a bottle of Charles Shaw at Trader Joe's for around $4.00.)
1 small bunch fresh thyme or 1 tablespoon dried
1 bay leaf
3 carrots, sliced in 2" pieces, or 15 baby carrots with 1/2 " stems
1 cup cremini mushrooms, halved
1/2 cup chopped parsley

   Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat a large Dutch over medium-high heat and pour in the oil. (I used medium heat because I have a hot stove.) Season the chicken with the salt and pepper. Brown the chicken on all sides, cooking for 10 to 15 minutes total and then transfer them to a large plate. (I also used a frying pan so that there are not too many pieces in the pan together, that would cause steaming.) Add the onions to the drippings and sauté them until browned, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about 3 seconds, until fragrant. Stir in the tomato paste and cook 2 minutes. Add 1 cup water, the wine, bay leaf, torn in half, and the reserved chicken. Bring to a simmer, cover, and transfer to the oven. Bake 30 minutes.
   Add the mushrooms and the carrots, re-cover, and bake until the chicken is tender, about 30 minutes more.
   Transfer the chicken and all the vegetables with a fine-mesh strainer or slotted spoon to a bowl and keep warm. Remove and discard the bay leaf and the thyme sprigs, so just sauce remains in the pot. Bring to a boil, and simmer until reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Return the chicken and vegetables to the sauce and stir to coat well and heat through. Serve immediately on a rimmed platter,  sprinkle some chopped parsley on top, passing any extra sauce in a gravy boat.
   Another way to individually plate this entree, would be to place a good spoonful of garlic-mashed potatoes on each plate, and then to place chicken and vegetables on top.
   So voila, there you go ! Make this lovely dish for a Holiday, birthday, anniversary, or any time you feel in the mood to pretend you're in Paris !