Today is Coq au Vin Day. Tomorrow is the Feast Day of Saint Joan of Arc. Coq au Vin is a French Classic. And Joan of Arc is the stuff of legends. It seems only fitting to bring these two celebrations together in one amazing supper.
Have I told you that I adore French food? Yep. I love the Peasant Foods and the Fancy-Pants Foods and everything in between. I think the first French supper I ever cooked for guests was Coq au Vin. I’ve shared this story before, but just in case you didn’t know, my first Coq au Vin recipe was a part of a Murder Mystery Game set. Way back in the 1980s, people actually hosted Murder Mystery parties in their homes. Each game came with a list of six suspects, each with their own bio and clues to be revealed at some point during the evening. The game also including a recipe to help set the mood for the party. Can you imagine – learning to cook a French Classic from a mystery game? I will admit, while the game is long gone, I’ve kept the recipe. It’s one of many “Classics”.
Now this particular Coq au Vin recipe requires an overnight soak. So while we’ll start the cooking process on National Coq au Vin Day, we’ll actually sit down to dinner on the Feast of Satin Joan of Arc.
Joan of Arc was born to a peasant family at Domrémy in northeast France sometime around 1412. In 1428 Joan traveled to Vaucouleurs to request an audience with Charles VII of France. Joan later testified that she had received visions from the Archangel Saint Michael, from Saint Margaret and Saint Catherine instructing her to support Charles and recover France from English domination. Her request was rejected twice. Joan would not give up, and eventually the garrison Commander Robert de Baudricout gave in. He provided the young teenager with an escort to meet with King Charles at Chinon. Charles was so impressed, he sent Joan to the siege of Orléans as part of a relief army. While it seemed victory would soon be at hand, when Charles’ army besieged Paris, the assault on the city failed. Joan was wounded. The French army withdrew and was disbanded.
In early 1430, Joan organized a company of volunteers to relieve Compiègne. She was captured by Burgundians troops and handed over to the English. A pro-English bishop, Pierre Cauchon, charged Joan with heresy. She was declared guilty and burned at the stake on May 30, 1431. It wasn’t until 1456, under the authority of Pope Callixtus III, that an inquisition was held to investigate the original trial. The verdict was found to be tainted, and Joan of Arc was exonerated. After the French Revolution, she became a national symbol of France. Joan of Arc was canonized in 1920, and declared a secondary Patron Saint of France in 1922. Tomorrow is her Feast Day.
It seems only fitting that we celebrate the day with an amazing Peasant Dish -enjoy!
Two-Day Coq au Vin
3 large Carrots
1 large Yellow Onion
8 oz Button Mushrooms
6 bone-in Chicken Thighs
6 sprigs fresh Thyme
2 Bay Leaves
2 cups Red Wine
2 slices Thick-cut Smoked Bacon
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1/4 cup Flour
Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste
1-1/2 cups Chicken Stock
Chopped Parsley for garnish
Cut carrots lengthwise, then in thirds, set aside. Peel and dice onion, set aside. Clean mushrooms, remove stems and set aside.
Place the chicken thighs in a large marinating dish or casserole dish with a tight-fitting lid. Add in the carrots, onions, thyme and bay leaves. Pour wine over top, seal with lid and place in the refrigerator overnight.
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Roughly chop bacon, set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large, high-sided cast iron skillet n over medium high heat. Add chopped bacon, and cook until crisp, about 6 minutes. Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon, leaving bacon drippings in the pan. Place bacon on a plate lined with a paper towel to drain. Set aside.
Remove the chicken-vegetable mixture from the refrigerator. Strain using a colander over a large bowl, reserving the wine liquid. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.
In a large bowl toss chicken with flour. Season well with salt and pepper, set aside.
In the now empty skillet, warm bacon drippings over medium heat. Add the chicken thighs skin down, brown for about 4 minutes or until golden. Remove thighs from skillet and set aside.
In the empty skillet sauté the mushrooms for about 5 minutes. Remove mushrooms with a slotted spoon and set aside with the bacon.
Add in the carrots, onion, thyme and bay leaves to the skillet, cooking until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour the reserved wine liquid into the skillet, and let simmer until reduced by half. Add the chicken stock to the pan; bring to a boil. Once liquid is boiling, return chicken to the skillet. Cover; transfer to the heated oven. Bake Coq au Vin for about 40 minutes or until tender.
Remove from the oven. If necessary, thicken the sauce with a flour slurry, heating over medium heat on the stove top to remove that raw flour taste.
Chop parsley for a garnish. Top with bacon, mushrooms and parsley just before serving.