There’s no way I could persuade Emma to spend the three days needed for a classic coq au vin. Instead she’s devised this version that has the flavor of the original with far less work. When she’s really short of time, she cooks the chicken without marinating, and it is still delicious.

Serves 4

  • Red Wine Marinade
  • 1 chicken, cut in 8 pieces (page 00)
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 4 thick slices of bacon, diced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups/500 ml/16 fl oz chicken stock
  • salt and pepper to taste

1. Marinate the chicken pieces in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours if you have time. Drain the pieces on paper towels, straining and reserving the marinade and vegetables separately. (If you are short of time, go straight ahead without marinating.)

2.  In a sauté pan heat the oil and brown the chicken pieces on all sides, taking 10 to 15 minutes. Remove them, add the bacon, and fry until it starts to brown. Stir in the reserved vegetables and brown them also. Stir in the flour and cook until browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the reserved marinade, bring to a boil and simmer 2 minutes so the wine reduces thoroughly. Stir in the chicken stock and replace the chicken pieces, pushing them well down into the sauce.

3. Cover the pan and simmer on the stove, or in a preheated 350°F/180°C/Gas 4 oven until the chicken pieces are very tender when pierced with a two-pronged fork, 35 to 40 minutes. Turn the pieces halfway through cooking.  If the sauce gets thick, stir in more stock. At the end of cooking the sauce should lightly coat the back of a spoon. If it is thin, remove the chicken pieces and boil it to the right consistency. Discard the bouquet garni and cheesecloth bag of spices—the vegetables are left in the sauce. Replace the chicken pieces.  Reheat them, taste and adjust seasoning of the sauce.

GETTING AHEAD: Coq au vin reheats superbly, so make it 2 to 3 days ahead of time.

Red Wine Marinade:

This is the classic French red wine marinade for coq au vin and stews such as boeuf bourguignon. The character of the marinade depends very much on the wine — light, fruity, or full-bodied and complex, it’s your choice.

Makes 3 cups marinade, enough for 1 chicken or 3 pounds stew meat.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced
  • 1 bottle (750 ml) red wine
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • bouquet garni of 2 bay leaves and a few sprigs of thyme and parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 12 whole peppercorns
  • 12 juniper berries

In a saucepan, heat the oil and sauté the onions, carrot, and celery until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the wine, vinegar, bouquet garni, and garlic cloves. Tie the peppercorns and juniper berries in a piece of cheesecloth and pound with a rolling pin to crush them. Add the bag to the wine mixture, bring to a boil, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool and then chill before using.


GETTING AHEAD: Cooked marinades like this keep well in the refrigerator up to 2 days before use.

From The Good Cook: 70 Essential Techniques, 250 Step-by-Step Photographs, 350 Recipes by Anne Willan. Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 2004.
Photo CREDIT: Alison Harris.