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.
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.
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
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
Preparation of the mushrooms
To finish the dish
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.
This 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.