Saturday, August 22, 2009

Coq au Vin à la Julia Child

The recent success of the Julie & Julia movie (and some of the negative reviews of it also) prompt me to use this occasion to share my modification of her coq au vin recipe for a LS/LF diet. Now as the film makes clear, Julia's recipes follow the traditional French approach with heavy use of butter in many dishes. Salt and salted meats are also heavily used. So only recipes that can be modified for LS/LF diets should be considered.

Just prior to being told to use a LS/LF diet, I read R.W. Apple's last dining column in the NY Times where he discussed "10 restaurants abroad that would be worth boarding a plane to visit, even in these fraught days." The first one discussed was Auberge du Cep, in Fleurie, France near Beaujolais. I visited the restaurant, had the coq au vin and it was fantastic. Upon returning home and starting a LS/LF diet I looked to Julia for inspiration and found it in her book, The French Chef Cookbook, based on the PBS series. So here is my adaption of the recipe from Show 38.

For 4-6 people
Use a 10" flameproof casserole or an electric skillet

Browning the chicken

2 1/2 - 3 lbs. chicken breasts
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 cup cognac

Skin the chicken breasts, leave the bone in and remove as much visible fat as possible. Cut each breast into 3 pieces. (Traditional coq au vin uses many parts of the chicken, cutting the breasts randomly obscures that only breasts are used.) Dry chicken thoroughly and brown in olive oil. Season with pepper and cook slowly 10 minutes more in covered pan, turning once. Then uncover, remove from stove, add cognac and ignite with a lighted match held in pliers. Shake pan until flames subside. Pay attention to fire hazards during the flaming!

Simmering in red wine

3 cups Burgundy style wine
1-2 cups beef stock or bouillon
1 Tb tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic 1/4 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
LSLF Smoke seasoning such as Colgin Liquid Smoke to taste

(Prepared LSLF beef broth exists but is hard to find. Alternatively make a small batch yourself without salt and be careful to skim excess fat. Traditional recipes use bacon for seasoning, add liquid smoke to taste as an alternative.) Pour wine into pan and add just enough bouillon to cover the chicken. Stir in tomato paste, garlic, and herbs. Bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer slowly for about 30 minutes or until chicken meat is tender.

The onions

12-24 small white onions
1-2 Tb olive oil

(The small onions can be the hardest ingredient to find, so start scouting them out before you do other things. Canned small onions are usually high in salt.) While chicken is cooking, drop onions into boiling water, bring water back to a boil, and lety boil for 1 minute. Drain, shave off both ends of the onions, peel carefully, and pierce a deep cross in the root end with a small sharp knife (to keep onions whole during cooking). Heat oil in a frying pan, add onions, and toss for several minutes until browned - they will be a patchy brown. Add water 1/2 way up the onions, cover pan, and simmer slowly for 25-30 minutes until tender.

The mushrooms

1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms
1 1/2 Tb olive oil

Trim base of mushroom stems, remove base from stems, wash stems and caps in cold water and dry in a towel. Cut caps in quarters and stems in bias/diagonal chunks. Saute mushrooms in hot oline oil for 4-5 minutes until lightly brown.

Sauce and serving

3 Tb flour
2 Tb olive oil

When chicken is done, drain out cooking liquid into a saucepan. Skim off fat and boil down liquid to concentrate the flavor. You should have about 2 1/4 cup. Remove from heat. Blend olive oil and four in a saucer, beat into the cooking liquid with a wire wisk. Bring to a simmer, stirring, and simmer for a minute or two until sauce has thickened. Scrape onions and mushrooms into the sauce and simmer a minute or two to blend flavors. Pour sauce over the chicken. Chicken can not be reheated for serving or can be refrigerated for up to 2 days - whihc actually improves flavor.

Shortly before serving bring to a boil while basting chicken with sauce. Cover and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Be careful not to overcook!

Serve with rice, potatoes, or noodles. Bon appetit

Wikipedia photo

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