Coq Au Vin

Coq au Vin is one of the most enduring of the great traditional dishes. It is served in country inns, small bistros, grand restaurants, family homes, yet no one ever tires of it. It is an old and classic dish, originally made with an old rooster, marinated then slowly braised until very tender, but it is very difficult for most of us to find a mature cockerel today.

We can compensate by marinating a free-range chicken overnight in red wine and cooking it in a very flavourful wine-based sauce. White wine may be used instead of red, as in Alsace where the local Riesling is used, and this lends itself more to a summer's day lunch, being lighter and fresher in appearance.

The chicken can be cooked in the wine or broth up to a day or so in advance, cooled and kept in a refrigerator. Reheat it over low heat for about 40 minutes, then proceed with the recipe, thickening the liquid and adding the vegetables.

With Coq au Vin I like to serve a vegetable puree, such as celeriac or fennel, tiny steamed potatoes with rice or noodles to absorb the sauce, and a large bowl of a tossed salad to refresh the palate.


2 kg to 3 kg chicken

Olive oil for frying

Half an onion diced

Bouquet garni

Salt and pepper

2 sticks celery cut into 3 cm pieces

2 carrots diced

75 gm bacon or pancetta

500 ml robust red wine or dry white

250 ml chicken stock or more to cover

150 gm button mushrooms

150 gm small onions peeled

50 gm flour

2 garlic cloves peeled and chopped

1 tbspn sugar


Brown the chicken in a deep casserole with half the oil, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the diced onions and cook until translucent. Add carrots and celery and stir.

Off the heat, add two tablespoons of flour, stirring in to blend with the chicken pieces. Add the wine slowly, stirring to blend in the flour, then add enough stock to cover.

Cook for 45 minutes or until the chicken is not pink inside.

In the meantime, cook the small onions in half of the remainder of the oil until brown, then add one tablespoon of sugar and cook for about a minute, stirring continuously to caramelise. Put on one side.

The sauce should be thick after the cooking time, but if not, take out the chicken pieces and reduce the stock until it is the consistency of single cream.

Put the chicken back into the stock, add the mushrooms, onions and garlic and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper and maybe a touch of Worcester sauce. 

You can serve straight from the casserole having sprinkled a little chopped parsley on the top.