Coq au Vin Sous-Vide

Coq au Vin was ‘invented’ to turn a tough old rooster into a feast. Nowadays it is hard to find such tough old roosters, and most Coq au Vin is made with chickens that have only lived to be about six weeks old. They do not really require to be simmered for a long time in red wine to become edible, and have a lot less flavor. Coq au Vin is still good anyway. If you are looking for a good Coq au Vin recipe for regular chicken, click here.

After I had discovered a type of free range chicken that is allowed to grow more slowly and thus develop more flavor, which reminded me of my grandmother’s chicken, I was curious how it would work when served as Coq au Vin. My parents were coming over for dinner and they had dropped some hints that they were curious about the “kip van tante Ali” I had found. And so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and prepare that type of chicken sous-vide, served as Coq au Vin.

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I decided against cooking the chicken sous-vide with red wine, and instead added the red wine sauce at the end to allow the exquisite flavor of the chicken to shine. I was very happy with the result, as the sauce worked wonderfully with the chicken, while the wonderful flavor of the chicken still stood out. The sous-vide cooking time of the chicken depends on the age (toughness) of the chicken. Regular chicken only needs 8-12 hours or so, but if you can find the real thing I would recommend 48 hours to make it fall-off-the-bone tender and juicy.

Another advantage of sous-vide that you only need wine and stock for the sauce, which is less than what you would need to cover the chicken for traditional stewing.

Ingredients

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Looks familiar? I used the same shot of the ingredients as for the regular Coq au Vin. This was easier as the chicken legs were already going into the water bath two days before I even purchased the other ingredients.

For 4 servings

4 chicken legs

4 tsp fresh thyme leaves

2 Tbsp butter

salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce

50 grams (2 oz) bacon cut into lardons

375 ml (1/2 bottle) good quality pinot noir

250 ml (1 cup) home-made brown chicken stock

1 tsp tomato paste

1 Tbsp butter

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

1 bay leaf

30 grams (3 Tbsp) flour

30 grams (2 Tbsp) butter, softened

For the mushrooms

175 grams (6 oz) small button mushrooms

1 Tbsp minced shallots

For the braised onions

8-12 pearl onions (i.e. very small onions, also called cocktail onions or boiling onions)

1 bouquet garni: fresh thyme and parsley tied together in a bay leaf

125 ml (1/2 cup) red wine

Preparation of the chicken

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Season the chicken with salt and freshly ground black pepper on all sides. Vacuum seal the chicken with 2 Tbsp of butter and 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves per chicken leg. Cook sous-vide at 62C/144F for 12-48 hours, depending on the toughness of the chicken. The older the chicken, the longer the cooking time and the more flavor.

Preparation of the braised onions

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Prepare the onions and mushrooms while the chicken is simmering. To peel the onions, bring a pot of water to a boil and boil the onions for 1 minute.

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Plunge them into cold water. They should now be easy to peel. Try to keep them whole.

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Heat a generous tablespoon of clarified butter in a saucepan or small frying pan. Add the onions.

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Brown the onions over medium heat for about 10 minutes, rolling them about to brown them as evenly as possible.

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Lower the heat and add the red wine.

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Add the bouquet garni and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

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Let simmer over low heat for about 45 minutes until tender.

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Turn the onions now and then and check whether you need to add a bit more wine. Discard the bouquet garni and turn off the heat.

Preparation of the mushrooms

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Heat 2 Tbsp clarified butter in a frying pan over high heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté them for about 5 minutes until golden on all sides.

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Lower the heat to medium and add the shallot.

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Sauté for a few minutes longer until the shallot is golden and turn off the heat. With with seasoning the mushrooms until you are ready to serve them.

To finish the dish

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Heat 1 Tbsp butter in a frying pan. Add lardons, bay leaf, thyme, and garlic. Sauté for a few minutes until the garlic and lardons are golden. Do not allow the garlic to burn.

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Add the red wine.

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Allow to simmer until half of the wine has evaporated.

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Add chicken stock and tomato paste.

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Allow to simmer until again reduced by half.

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Strain into a saucepan and add the juices from the sous-vide bag over low heat. (In this case there seems to be no problem with the sauce curdling when adding the juices from the sous-vide bag.)

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Combine the flour and softened butter in a bowl.

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Knead them together to make beurre manié.

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Whisk the beurre manié into the sauce and cook for a bit until the sauce has thickened somewhat. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

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Heat the final tablespoon of butter in a frying pan. Add the chicken legs that have been cooked sous-vide and brown them lightly in the hot butter. The skin will be soft, so it will break easily.

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Add the sauce and toss the chicken to coat it with the sauce on all sides.

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Heat on warm plates with the mushrooms and onions. Spoon some more sauce over the chicken and serve.

Wine pairing

DSC03861This pairs well with a light to medium-bodied red wine, especially a pinot noir from Bourgogne. A strong red wine would overpower the chicken. The wine pairing will work very well if you use the same or a very similar wine for the sauce.

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22 thoughts on “Coq au Vin Sous-Vide

  1. This looks so wonderfully delicious. It is 220am and you have me feeling hungry 🙂 I will certainly give this recipe a try. Thank you for sharing and I look forward to learning from you in the future 🙂 I recently started a food blog too and hopefully will have it as informative as yours 🙂 Natasha

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  2. Hi, Stefan. Great post! I love the technique and the plated dish looks very inviting and delicious. I can imagine how tasty this must have been. I am curious, however, about your comment:
    “I decided against cooking the chicken sous-vide with red wine, and instead added the red wine sauce at the end to allow the exquisite flavor of the chicken to shine.”
    In my limited experience with sous vide, no matter what I use to infuse flavor into chicken, it always comes out tasting like perfectly cooked chicken with little to no infused flavor. I even did a boneless chicken breast with 3 Tbsp mojo de ajo (garlic salsa) at 140 F for 3-1/2 hours. The chicken cooked perfectly. The resulting sauce was fantastic. The chicken, however, tasted like perfectly cooked, moist chicken. Sadly, there was no infusion of the garlic salsa into the flesh. Because of the sauce, the resulting dinner was very tasty. Nonetheless, I was hoping to get some infusion of the garlic into the flesh of the chicken. So, your comment that you opted not to cook the chicken with the wine because you wanted the chicken to shine on its own gives me some hope that infusion of flavor into the meat is possible. What has been your experience in trying to infuse flavor into meats cooked sous vide? Do I need to simply rely upon marinades and brines?
    Thanks.

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    1. Hi Richard, firstly thanks for the very nice compliment.
      Secondly, now that you mention it, I’ve not had completely consistent results with infusing flavor into meat cooked sous-vide, and your curiosity just made me realize that fully.
      In some cases the flavors did infuse into the meat and in others they didn’t, and I can’t think of a common factor that made the difference. So it is definitely possible, but I’m not sure that I can predict what will happen for a given recipe.
      One thing I do know is that it helps to keep it sealed longer, i.e. either vacuum pack the meat with the flavors and refrigerate 24 hours before cooking sous-vide, or cool and refrigerate after cooking sous-vide and then reheat sous-vide for service.
      I have wondered about recipes using sous-vide that require to brine or marinate meat before cooking it sous-vide, as I suspect that cooking sous-vide and marinating can be done at the same time. But I haven’t actually confirmed that.
      Something else I noted is that when I marinated a chuck roast in red wine for 24 hours, the wine had only penetrated into the meat for about 1/4 inch or so.
      I guess I’ll have to do some experiments 🙂 Thanks for the inspiration.

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  3. Coq au vin is such a flavorful way to prepare chicken, isn’t it? I was surprised to see that you didn’t cook the chicken with wine sous-vide, as Richard mentioned, but I understand your reasoning. Not having sous-vide capabilities, I’ll just have to take your word for it. 🙂
    A great post, Stefan. You’ve explained everything quite clearly and photographed it very well.

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  4. I can understand why there is little penetration of the other flavours when you vacuum the pack. The infusion settles around the chicken, and indeed any other meat, and not on the meat itself.
    I would suggest that rather than using vacuum sealer you allow the infusion to remain in contact with the chicken and remove as much air as possible from the pack using a ‘zip lock’ bag and pushing the air out against a work top. This will allow all the flavours to be in contact with the meat while excluding enough air for the sous vide process to work.
    Would love to hear your comments and indeed comments from your followers on my thoughts and their experiences.

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    1. Hi Jack, thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment. In my experience, during the cooking process the liquid in the bag will end up touching the meat after all. I am planning to do some experiments with the combination of marinating and cooking sous-vide and will report back on the blog.

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      1. Look forward to your findings Stefan. I have the Andrew James basic bath without agitation but it really works giving really tender meat. The flavour issues are however real. I have avoided putting oil/liquid in the bag before extracting the air using the vacuum machine, having seen the liquid getting sucked up towards the intake. Reduced to dry rubs! Ho hum!

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  5. I had a rather strange experience cooking the sauce. Tasting it at various stages I thought it was unpleasantly bitter. I thought it was my stock which is generally made with random leftovers but I persisted and it turned out really wonderful in the end.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good to hear it turned out wonderful. Stock often has a bitter flavor if it is still thin and unsalted. Many flavors and smells are unpleasant when their concentration level is either too high or too low.

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