Warning: Spoilers everywhere!
"Drinking and lust, no man can match me at these things."
Season 3, Episode 8: Second Sons
Tyrion on wine, coq and death:
Season 1, Episode 8: The Pointy End
"It's not easy being drunk all the time. Everyone would do it if it were easy." Clearly, Tyrion Lannister loves his wine. Many of Tyrion's scenes involve his thoughts on drinking, drinking games, spilling of wine, some unfortunate effects of too much wine, and thoughts on wine and death. But we come to find that beneath this pickled persona, this drunken patron saint of cripples, bastards and broken things hides a sharp mind, a knack for survival and a deeply empathetic heart. Tyrion Lannister is, in fact, one of the most underestimated heroes in all of the Seven Kingdoms. This week we honor Tyrion Lannister, current Hand of the Queen and self-proclaimed "god of tits and wine", with this classic recipe for Coq au Vin.
"Everything's better with some wine in the belly," says Tyrion and we'll raise our glasses to that. A coq in the belly would be even better - and by coq we obviously mean the French 'coq' for rooster, or in this case, chicken. Coq au vin is a classic French stew which traditionally made use of an old rooster past his prime for one final glorious mission. The deliciously crafty French discovered that a tough old bird ready for 'retirement' also happens to be extremely flavorful, and if marinated overnight in wine and simmered in a pot with bacon, mushrooms and onions, will tenderize and make for one amazing stew.
For those of us who do not have a French maman passing down her secret coq au vin recipe, there is really only one recipe to follow: Julia Child's coq au vin from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It is as authentic and classic as you can get in your own kitchen. The recipe itself calls for many, many steps - steps which would immediately begin to intimidate anyone (me) into reaching for Postmates. But fear not, when it comes down to it, coq au vin is basically browned chicken stewed in wine, and when you taste that first spoonful of rich wine sauce, every single step will be worth it and you'll understand why we all still bow down to the great Julia Child.
We've made a few versions of this coq au vin and you could just brown the chicken, and throw the mushrooms and onions into the same pot and let stew and it'll be good, it'll be fine. But taking just a few extra steps adds so much depth of flavor to this dish, it makes the difference between good and oh-my-god-I'm-booking-my-ticket-to-Paris-right-now revelatory. This is Julia Child, this is French cooking, so put that trusty Insta-pot away for now. Just for a little bit. Trust me, dust off your dutch oven and get ready to take these extra steps:
We've tried to break this recipe down into steps that preserved the flavor and the wow factor but is still something we could handle in the kitchen and would definitely do again. Served with crusty baguette, egg noodles, or in our case, buttered mashed potatoes and a good bottle of wine, this is a dish that will impress and is worthy of an appreciative audience.
But at its heart, coq au vin is a peasant dish - layers of flavor built up out of long cooking times, simple ingredients and a desire to stretch the value out of everything possible on a farm. But in the right hands it is possible to transform even a weathered, tough old coq - a meat totally undervalued and left for peasants - into a dish fit for royalty. A dish fit for Queens, or Kings. We think Tyrion would approve.
"What would make our time truly enjoyable is some wine," Tyrion reminds us. So, take your time, fortify yourself with a glass or two and break out that dutch oven. When you take that first bite of tender chicken in rich velvety sauce, you will know that it was worth all of the extra time and effort. Your guests will likely grant you a standing ovation. You will raise your glass and call out "I AM THE GOD OF COQS AND WINE!" You will not be wrong. Bon appétit.
Coq au Vin
adapted from Julia Child
1. Marinate the chicken in wine, covered, in refrigerator overnight.
2. Sauté the bacon slowly in dutch oven over medium high heat until it is very lightly browned. Remove to a side dish.
3. Remove the chicken from wine, and dry the chicken very thoroughly. Reserve the wine. Brown chicken in the hot fat, skin side down, until skin is crispy and golden brown. I went for a a little darker golden brown. (This step is very important, there is nothing sadder than limp fatty chicken skin in your sauce.)
4. Season the chicken. Return the bacon to the casserole with the chicken. Cover and cook slowly for 10 minutes, turning the chicken once.
5. Uncover pot, and pour in the cognac. Averting your face, and step away from the pot, carefully ignite the cognac with a long handled lighter or match. Shake the casserole back and forth for several seconds until the flames subside. (You can also briefly place the cover on the pot to extinguish the flames.)
6. Pour 3 cups total of reserved and additional wine into the casserole. Add just enough stock to just cover the chicken. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic and herbs. Bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer slowly for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and its juices run a clear yellow when the meat is pricked with a fork.
7. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the onions, mushrooms and carrots.
Place the skillet over high heat with the butter and oil. As soon as you see the butter foam has begun to subside, indicating that it is hot enough, add the mushrooms. Toss and shake the pan for 4 to 5 minutes. During their sauté the mushrooms will at first absorb the fat. In 2 to 3 minutes the fat will reappear on their surface, and the mushrooms will begin to brown. As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from pan. Add butter if needed. Add onions to pan, toss and shake the pan for 4 to 5 minutes until onions are golden brown, remove from pan. Add butter if needed, when hot enough, add carrots to pan. Toss and shake the pan for 6-7 minutes until browned and just tender, remove from pan.
8. Remove the chicken to a side dish. Simmer the chicken cooking liquid in the casserole for a minute or two, skimming off the fat. Then raise the heat and boil rapidly, reducing the liquid to about 2 1/4 cups. Correct seasoning. Remove from heat and discard bay leaf.
9. Blend the 3 tbsp of softened butter and flour together into a smooth paste (buerre manie). Slowly add a bit of the hot cooking liquid to the butter and flour to make a loose slurry. Pour into the hot liquid, bring to a simmer, stirring, and simmer for a minute or two. The sauce should become saucy and velvety, thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.
10. Arrange the chicken back in the casserole, place the mushrooms, onions and carrots around it and baste with the sauce. If this dish is not to be served immediately, film the top of the sauce with stock or dot with small pieces of butter. Set aside uncovered. It can now wait indefinitely.
11. Shortly before serving, bring to the simmer, basting the chicken with the sauce. Cover and simmer slowly for 4 to 5 minutes, until the chicken is hot enough.
12. Serve from the casserole, or arrange on a hot platter. Garnish with parsley. Receive due praise and bask in glory.