In This Menu:
- Julia Child’s Coq au Vin
- Creamy Cantaloupe Soup
- Fried Strawberries
Julia Child’s Coq au Vin
When I was growing up, Sunday evening at the Clary house meant one thing: Julia Childs. We watched her show religiously and my early attempts at cooking were certainly influenced by her. This is Julia Child’s recipe for her famous Coq Au Vin (Casserole of Chicken in Red Wine). I remember making this dish as a teenager and became enamored with the tangy flavor of the red wine. Most of Julia’s cookbooks included this recipe. Coq au Vin (literally “rooster in red wine”) is probably the most famous of all French chicken dishes and certainly one of the most delicious, with its rich red wine sauce, tender onions and mushroom garniture, and its browned pieces of chicken with their wonderful flavor. Coq au Vin seems to be even better when done ahead so all its elements have time to steep together.
History: Coq Au Vin is a Burgundian dish, and is considered a French comfort food. The traditional recipe for Coq au Vin did not include chicken, but rather a “coq,” which is a rooster. For this dish, I chose to use chicken legs and thighs; you can add breasts if you like, but I feel that breast meat dries out and is not nearly as flavorful as the dark meat.
- 2½ to 3 pounds of chicken thighs and legs
- 4 ounces lean thick-cut bacon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- ¼ cup cognac (or brandy)
- 2 cups red wine (Pinot Noir, Burgundy, Beaujolais or Chianti)
- 2 cups homemade chicken stock or low-sodium chicken stock or broth
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 cloves garlic, mashed or minced
- 1 bay leaf
- ¼ teaspoon thyme
- Brown-Braised Onions (see recipe below)
- Mushrooms (see recipe below)
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- Parsley sprigs
Dry chicken thoroughly in a towel. Season chicken with salt and pepper; set aside.
Remove any rind off the bacon and cut the bacon into lardons (rectangles ¼-inch across and 1-inch long). In a saucepan, simmer the bacon sticks in 2 quarts of water for 10 minutes; remove from heat, drain, rinse in cold water, and pat dry.
In a large heavy frying pan, casserole dish, or electric skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil until moderately hot. Add the bacon and sauté slowly until they are lightly browned. Remove bacon to a side dish. Place chicken pieces into the hot oil (not crowding pan), and brown on all sides. Return bacon to the pan, cover pan, and cook slowly for 10 minutes, turning chicken once.
After browning the chicken, uncover pan, pour in the cognac. Cook for a couple of minutes to burn off alcohol. Pour the red wine into the pan and add just enough chicken broth to completely cover the chicken pieces. Stir in tomato paste, garlic, bay leaf, and thyme. Bring the liquid to a simmer, then cover pan, and simmer slowly for about 30 minutes or until the chicken meat is tender when pierced with a fork.
While the chicken is cooking, prepare the Brown-Braised Onions and the Mushrooms (recipes below).
When the chicken is done cooking, remove from the pan to a platter, leaving the cooking liquid in the pan. Increase heat to high and boil the cooking liquid rapidly until approximately 2 cups of liquid remains.
While the liquid is boiling, in a small bowl, blend the 3 tablespoons flour and 2 tablespoons softened butter into a smooth paste; beat the flour/butter mixture into the approximately 2 cups hot cooking liquid with a whisk. Simmer and stir for a minute or two until the sauce has thickened (the result will be a sauce thick enough to lightly coat a spoon – just thick enough to coat the chicken and vegetables lightly). If sauce is too thin, boil down rapidly to concentrate; if sauce is too thick, thin out with additional spoonfuls of chicken stock. Taste the final sauce, adding more salt and pepper if necessary.
To serve: Either serve from the casserole dish or arrange the chicken on a large platter. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Arrange the Brown-Braised Onions on one side of the chicken and the Mushrooms on the other side. Decorate with sprigs of parsley. Accompany with parsley potatoes, rice, or noodles; buttered green peas or a green salad; hot French bread; and the same red wine you used for cooking the chicken. This dish is traditionally served with wide egg noodles.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
- 12 to 24 small white onions, peeled (or double the amount if you want to use tiny frozen peeled raw onions)*
- 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt to taste
* If neither frozen nor fresh pearl onions are available, substitute one large onion cut into ½-inch pieces. (Do not use jarred pearl onions, they will turn mushy and disintegrate into the sauce.)
While chicken is cooking, drop onions into boiling water, bring water back to the boil, and let boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and drain. Cool onions in ice water. Shave off the two ends (root and stem ends) of each onion, peel carefully, and pierce a deep cross in the root end with a small knife (to keep onions whole during cooking).
In a large frying pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil, add parboiled onions, and toss for several minutes until lightly browned (this will be a patchy brown). Add water to halfway up onions and add ¼ to ½ teaspoon salt. Cover pan and simmer slowly for 25 to 30 minutes or until onions are tender when pierced with a knife.
NOTE: Onions may be cooked in advance, set aside, and then reheated when needed. Season to taste just before serving.
- ½ pound fresh mushrooms, washed and well dried; left whole if small, sliced or quartered if large
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
In a large frying pan over medium heat, heat butter and olive oil; when bubbling hot, toss in mushrooms and sauté over high heat for 4 to 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from heat.
NOTE: Mushrooms may be cooked in advance, set aside, and then reheated when needed. Season to taste just before serving.
Creamy Cantaloupe Soup
I love soups and in the summer (as you know if you read this blog with any regularity) I like cold soups. Here is one using cantaloupes that is perfect for a warm summer evening.
- 1 medium size cantaloupe,
peeled and cut up
- 1 pint half and half
- ½ cup honey
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Dash orange juice
- Dash champagne
- Sour cream
Blend cantaloupe, half and half, honey, and cinnamon in blender. Orange juice and/or champagne may be added for zest. Serve chilled with a dollop of sour cream in each bowl.
When I first opened Clary’s, I was looking for a different kind of dessert and a friend had just returned from the West Coast and had fried strawberries at a restaurant. I was intrigued and began to play with the idea. The recipe below is the final result.
- 1 pint fresh strawberries
- 1 cup plain flour
- 1 egg
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Granulated sugar
- Oil (for frying)
- Whipped cream
- Mint sprig (optional)
Wash strawberries and pat dry with paper towels. Put flour in a shallow bowl. Beat egg and milk together in a bowl. Mix cinnamon and graham cracker crumbs in a shallow dish. Dredge strawberries in flour, then in egg/milk and then roll in graham cracker mixture. Have enough oil heated for deep frying. Deep fry strawberries for 1 to 2 minutes or until coating is crisped. Drain on paper towels and roll in sugar. Place strawberries (about 4 per serving depending on size of berries) on a plate with whipped cream and garnish with mint.