If you asked me to name a dish I’d eat over and over again…it would be this one. Not only for the reasons you may assume. This incredibly warming meal is like a delicious hug in bowl and when the weather turns cool, it makes the entire house smell like home. But, what I also look forward to, is the process of cooking this meal. Each step gives such satisfaction, from the browning bits of fragrant pancetta to the golden crisp skin of the chicken and the fruity aroma of the wine.
Coq au vin is a very homey traditional braised chicken, usually made with red wine. I do love that recipe, but to be honest, I love this one more. The white wine is less overpowering and doesn’t affect the color of the chicken. I also use pancetta instead of bacon. Bacon in the US is very smokey and I do love that, but not in coq au vin. I think the smokiness takes over. I love the way pancetta lends great flavor, but stays in the background.
This, to me, is a wonderful weekend meal, when you have time to enjoy putting it together. It also makes a nice meal for entertaining. I tend to make this our Sunday dinner an awful lot. Leftovers warm up perfectly for another night during the week.
Coq au Vin Blanc
4 ounces pancetta, finely diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 whole chicken (about 4 to 5 pounds), cut into pieces
freshly ground black pepper
16 ounces white button mushrooms (or your favorite variety), sliced
1 large shallot, finely diced
10 ounces pearl onions, peeled (see Notes)
1 stalk celery, sliced
2 medium carrots, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 bottle dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
5 to 6 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
5 to 6 sprigs fresh parsley
In a large Dutch oven over medium high heat, cook the pancetta bits until golden and a bit crisp. Remove them, using a slotted spoon and set them aside on a small dish.
Add a bit of olive oil to the pot. Salt and pepper the chicken pieces and brown them on both sides, about 3 to 4 minutes per side, in small batches. Put the pieces aside in a large dish as you work.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Add the mushrooms to the pot, continuing on medium high heat. If you need to, add just a smidgen of oil. Brown the mushrooms until they are a deep golden brown. This will give your dish great flavor. They will release some water during the process, but keep them going and do not add any salt at this stage. They’ll begin to dry up and get brown and delicious. Once they are, add the shallot, pearl onions, celery and carrot. Continue cooking until the shallots soften. Add the garlic and cook for just a minute. Add the flour and stir to coat all of the vegetables.
Pour in the bottle of wine. Bring the wine to a light simmer and add the chicken broth, thyme sprigs, bay leaf and about 4 sprigs of the parsley along with the pancetta and chicken.
Cover the pot and place it in the oven for 1 1/2 to 1 hour and 45 minutes or until the chicken is tender.
Sprinkle the remaining leaves of parsley over the top and serve with mashed or smashed potatoes.