2.2 kg chicken (see Tip, below)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup diced smoked bacon or lardons (see Tip, below)
1/4 cup cognac or armagnac
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and coarsely ground black pepper
10 eschalots or small pickling onions, peeled leaving some core attached
3 tbsp plain flour
2 cups red wine, pinot noir (or something you love!)
About 500ml good-quality chicken stock (see Tip, below)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp tomato paste
300g button mushrooms, trimmed, quartered
Cut chicken into parts and pat dry with absorbent kitchen paper. Set aside. Heat oil in large, heavy-based pot over a medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring for about 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer to a plate, leaving the oil drippings in pot.
Heat drippings in pot over a medium-high heat. Add chicken pieces in two to three batches, being careful not to crowd the pot. Cook chicken, turning frequently, until browned on all sides. Return all chicken pieces to pot.
Carefully pour in cognac or armagnac. Bring to the boil. If desired – and only if you’re an experienced cook – ignite the sauce with a long-nosed gas cooktop lighter. Let it flame for a minute, gently tilting the pot by its handle and swirling the sauce to burn off the alcohol. To extinguish the flames, simply cover the pan with its lid.
Add bay leaf, thyme and season with salt and pepper. Nestle the onions around the chicken. Cover pot and simmer gently, turning the pieces once, for about 10 minutes. Uncover the pot, sprinkle flour over, and turn the chicken and onions so the flour is absorbed into the sauce. Cover and simmer, turning once or twice, for 3 to 4 minutes more.
Remove pot from the heat and gradually stir in the wine and enough stock to almost cover the chicken. Add the bacon or lardons, garlic and tomato paste and stir to combine. Cover, and gently simmer for about 25-30 minutes.
Begin to test if chicken is cooked through (there should be no trace of pink and the juices should run clear when the meat is pierced with a knife). Use tongs to remove the chicken pieces, especially breast portions, that are cooked through. Transfer to a plate. Continue to cook the rest of the chicken a few minutes longer until cooked through.
If the onions are not quite tender, continue cooking them in the sauce. Return chicken to the pot, add mushrooms and simmer for about 5 minutes or until soft. The sauce should be just thick enough to lightly coat the chicken and vegetables. (If the sauce seems too thin, bring to the boil and cook until reduced to desired consistency. If the sauce is too thick, thin it with more stock.)
Season to taste. Serve coq au vin immediately or let it cool, cover, and refrigerate overnight. To reheat, skim any fat that has congealed on the surface of the stew and place the pot of coq au vin over a medium-low heat to heat through slowly.
Serve coq au vin with steamed beans, mashed potato or steamed baby potatoes.
"Tip: You can also use 2.2kg of chicken parts if you prefer, such as drumsticks and thigh cutlets. It is preferable to leave bone in for breast so it doesn’t overcook and become too dry."
"Tip: Lardons come from using thick strips of smoked bacon. The bacon is cut into small blocks and they hold their shape when simmered for long periods. Find pieces of smoked bacon at your local butcher."
"Tip: For best results, use home-made chicken stock. If you don’t have time to do this, choose a good quality chicken stock."