RIZ ET DE COQ AU VIN ROUGE (Rice and Chicken in Red Wine)
This is the essence of country food. Our forebears made the most of what was on hand, and a tough old rooster or hen often made the next meal. That “most” is revealed in this classic dish of poultry forged in pork fat, then tempered with time in wine to ethereal culinary distinction. While younger birds are fine for fast frying, coq au vin requires the texture and taste of a bird that literally flies the coop everyday in order to live. After that, its transcendence is best accomplished with a 200 degree oven, a firm bottle of red wine (a white can be an interesting diversion), a casket shaped like a Dutch oven--cushioned with pearl onions and mushrooms--and a parting bouquet garni on top. Our preparation adds our nutty flavored brown rice, which, like the old bird, holds up to longer cooking temperatures. It soaks up and thickens the wine and broth, sharing responsibilities with the beurre manie. Lengthy slow cooking in wine breaks down the old bird’s heavy muscles and deep fat into the most intensely flavored and succulent chicken you may enjoy--your patience will be will be rewarded. If you struggle finding the right bird, you may find one out in the countryside, your butcher, maybe a baking hen at your market, or certainly the Mississippi Market Bulletin.
The poulet’s preparation…
5 pound chicken, cock or hen, cut up in frying pieces. (Use young fryer if you must-shorten cook time)
½ pound bacon, cut into lardons of ¼ inch squares or strips
Sage, dried and ground, to taste
Black pepper, ground, to taste
1 750 ml bottle red Burgundy, or other full bodied dry red wine
2 cups chicken stock, plus another cup if needed
3 carrots, cut into disks ¼ to ½ inch thick
2 celery ribs, diced finely
2 shallots, sliced and diced finely
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 pound pearl onions, blanched and skin removed
1 pound button mushrooms, caps only, quartered or sliced if large
4 tbsp butter, divided
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 small sprig tarragon, fresh
4 springs thyme, fresh
1 sprig chervil, or parsley if unavailable
String for bouquet garni
½ cup Beulah Land Tan or Beulah Land Medley Ecogrown Brown Rice
4 tsp rice flour for the beurre manie (wheat flour if gluten tolerant)
(note: need heavy, large, and medium height Dutch oven or braising pan with tight fitting lid)
Preheat oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
Brown lardons in Dutch oven until well cooked and much fat is rendered. Remove and set aside.
Dry moisture from chicken with towel. Season chicken with black pepper to taste and very sparingly with sage. Fry chicken in 2 batches in Dutch oven (do not crowd). Brown well on all sides. Remove and set aside.
4Remove all pork fat, saving 2 tbsp for sautéing vegetables. Sauté garlic, carrots, celery, and shallots in fat. Scrape the bottom of Dutch oven to release the crust. Sauté until onions translucent and cooked. Add tomato paste and blend well.
5 With medium to high heat, add 2 cups of red wine to vegetables in Dutch oven to finish deglazing pan. Reduce wine for 10 minutes. Add 1 cup of stock. Place chicken back in Dutch oven atop vegetables. Place breast and thicker pieces on bottom, thinner, fattier pieces on top. Add another cup of wine, and then more stock as needed to cover all chicken.
Gather tarragon, thyme, and chervil in moderately tight bundle and wrap and tie with string. Place this bouquet garni atop chicken. Bring heat up to simmer. When soft boil is achieved, place lid on Dutch oven and place in warmed oven for 3 hours. After this time passes, increase heat to 275 degrees centigrade, and remove Dutch oven for further amendments.
7) For the beurre manie. Soften 2 tbsp butter in cup and add flour, mixing well until a paste. Lift lid on Dutch oven and remove bouquet garni for disposal. Gently lift some of the top chicken pieces and add the paste and the rice to pan. Mix so as not to tear chicken from bone. Replace chicken, and place Dutch oven back in oven for 50 minutes.
Meanwhile,in large skillet, melt butter and sauté pearl onions until light brown on all sides. Add mushrooms and sauté until they are lightly browned. Remove from heat.
Remove Dutch oven from oven, and add pearl onions and mushrooms. Press them into gaps between chicken pieces, and spoon sauce over those not covered. Replace back in oven for 10 minutes.
Remove, let sit for 10 minutes, and enjoy!