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Coq au Vin à la Julia Child

A few weeks ago my good friend, Val, gave me Julia Child's cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  I promised to make a recipe from it and I am finally doing that.  This is a traditional French Coq au Vin.  I have not made this in years.

Although the traditional recipe uses red wine, I had my trepidations.  It was so painful looking in the pot!  Beautiful farm chicken stained red?  But I did it and the result was well worth the initial fears.  The final product was similar to Chinese lacquered duck.

The process was a little more detailed than other chicken stews.  But again, worth the effort.

Boiling the bacon lardons in water before sauteeing removed a lot of their fat and therefore, the flavour did not dominate over the chicken.  I bought pancetta already cut and it was perfect.  It added a nice subtlety.  Then lightly browning them in butter made them very palatable in the dish.

After simmering the chicken in wine and broth, and removing it to another plate, it was time to degrease the liquid.  I have always degreased by cooling the liquid.  Julia's method requires that it is brought to a simmer.  Actually this works, too.  The fat tends to come together around the edges and, even though I removed some cooking liquid, I was able to remove most of the grease.  Also, as the cooking liquid reduced, I did skim off any scum that formed.

I substituted the cognac with calvados ( Grace - just one more time to use up all your calvados! ).  It flamed nicely and burned off the alcohol.

If there was one change I would make, it would be to cut the chicken into pieces large enough that one piece would be a serving.  I cut the breast into three pieces and thus, more than one piece would be required for a serving.  I think it serves much more nicely if one piece of chicken is on the plate.  But then, that is a personal preference.

I like the serving suggestion, that it can be prepared to a point that it can wait 'indefinitely' before presenting.  I think this makes for a wonderful casual dinner party dish.

Traditionally, it would be served with baby potatoes or mashed potatoes and root vegetables or green beans.  I think it would also be amazing with polenta.

This is more of a commentary than sharing a recipe.  You know how detailed Julia's recipes are!  And you all know how to find it!  Adapting it to a simpler version so I can publish it on my blog would be blasphemy.  So I leave you with these notes to follow when you try this.

Bon Appetit!


  1. Julia's recipes are like a story unto themselves. And if you have the time to follow the story, you will be well gratified with the results. Your chicken looks simply delightful!

  2. What a lovely blog! I do agree about Julia - but she is an experience and her recipes always work. Sometimes not rushing anything and taking the time to be detailed can be hugely rewarding. Looking at the color - this does entice. Using Calvados puts a smile on my face although i will confess - I flame nothing. FOF. Fear of fire. Which means I eat my meals with not quite all of the alcohol burned off. There are worse things.

  3. Ca l'air tellement bon!
    Merci pour les belles photos! Tres joli blog, et des recettes bien interessantes!
    Bonne continuation

  4. your blog is really awesome.. your recipes are just lovely. thank you for sharing this.


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