The origin of the recipe is unknown. There are two popular myths as to its source: Napoleon and Caesar. What is known is that the recipe is very old (at least 400 years) but did not become popular until the early 1900s. Since then it has become one of the best known French recipes, both within and outside of France. Coq is the French word for “cock” (as in old Rooster, or male chicken). Vin is French for “wine” and “au” is French for “of the”. Consequently, “Coq au Vin” literally translates as “Cock of the wine”. However, as literal translations are not that meaningful, a better translation would be “Cock cooked with wine”. Until the 20th century it was common for rural families to have some chickens (for eggs and meat) and a rooster. The rooster would be kept until it was too old to perform its duties, at which time it would be killed and eaten. However, by this time the meat would be hard and stringy, so cooking it slowly in wine would tend to soften the meat and make it more edible. As such, the recipe has historically been considered “peasant food” or “poor people’s food” as the well-off would be able to afford a better cut of meat which would not require slow cooking in wine in order to be edible.
6-8 strips of thick apple wood smoked bacon 1/4 by 1 1/2-inch strips
3 1/2 pounds Good Shepherd Heritage Poultry ™ (Rooster or older bird a selection of parts, or all of one kind), thoroughly dried
.Salt and pepper
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
18 to 20 small white onions, peeled or roughly diced large whole white onion
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups red wine (hearty Burgundy,)
About 2 cups chicken stock or beef bouillon
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
About 2 tablespoon tomato paste
3/4 pound fresh mushrooms, trimmed, washed, and quartered
1. Sauté bacon several minutes in 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy-bottomed casserole until lightly browned; remove bacon to a side dish and leave fat in pan.
2. Heat fat in pan to moderately hot, add chicken (skin side down), and turn frequently to brown nicely on all sides.
3. Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper; add bay leaf and thyme. Place onions around the chicken. Cover and cook slowly 10 minutes, turning once.
4. Uncover pan and sprinkle on the flour, turning chicken and onions so flour is absorbed; cook 3 to 4 minutes more, turning once or twice.
5. Remove from heat, gradually stir and swirl in the wine and enough stock or bouillon to almost cover the chicken. Add the bacon, garlic, and tomato paste to the pan. Cover and simmer slowly 20 to 30 minutes per pound, then test chicken; remove those pieces that are tender, and continue cooking the rest until tender. You may add additional broth to keep cooking sauce bubbling. If onions are not quite tender, continue cooking them; then return all chicken to the pan, add mushrooms, and simmer 6 to 8 minutes. Sauce should be just thick enough to coat chicken and vegetables lightly. If too thin, boil down rapidly to concentrate; if too thick, thin out with spoonfuls of chicken broth.