>My memories of Julia Child – and Coq au Vin for good measure!


So, I just finished watching Julie and Julia, and can I just say – Nora Ephron? genius!  I think that Amy Adams is adorable, and Meryl Streep was quintessentially Julia in all of her mannerisms.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, and now you’ll have to excuse me as I proceed to gain 15 pounds traipsing merrily through the land of butter and cream that is French cooking.

I can remember as a child not having cable television and being relegated to the world of public television (not that I minded, nor do I mind now watching my share of PBS – love me some America’s Test Kitchen).  When Sesame Street and 3-2-1 Contact! were over, I often found myself watching The French Chef and the Galloping Gourmet and Nathalie Dupree and Justin Wilson.  Even when I was in elementary school, I was drawn to these types of instructional cooking shows.  The quirky hosts – somewhat unsure of themselves in front of the camera – were so much more likable than many of today’s t.v. “chefs”.  And when Julia and Jacques Pepin did their shows together – what fun was that!?  So cute together!

So, today I am cooking Coq au Vin from Larousse Gastronomique, as a sort of homage to the great and glorious Julia Child.  My husband gave me a copy of this illustrious tome for Christmas one year, just as Julia’s sweet husband gave her a copy ‘lo those many years ago (mine, thankfully, was in English).  Oddly enough, I don’t have a copy of The Art of French Cooking in my extensive collection, so I’ll have to rely on the historic recipes from Larousse to get me through.

There are actually three recipes for Coq au Vin in this encyclopedic volume.  The first is listed as an “old” recipe, the second is a “country” version, and the third I can’t remember off the top of my head, but included a woman’s name.  I combined the first two for my version.

Instead of cooking a whole chicken, I chose to use all thighs, since dark meat has so much more flavor than white.  Plus, it’s more chicken for less money, which is always better.  And, I couldn’t find pearl onions, so I used quartered white onions instead.

Otherwise, I followed these recipes pretty closely, and I must say – yum!

I started by rendering some bacon in a heavy enameled cast-iron dutch oven, and then I added the onions and let them soften and brown a bit.

Then I removed the bacon and onions and added six chicken thighs to the pot, skin down.

I let these brown on the skin side, then turned them to brown slightly on the other side.

Then I removed them from the pot and poured off most of the fat.

I added the mushrooms to the pot and let them brown before adding salt and pepper, which draws out some of the liquid and works to deglaze the pan drippings.


To this I added the chicken, bacon and onions that were set aside earlier, along with some carrots and a bouquet garni (thyme, bay leaf, rosemary, parsley).

I poured a bottle of red wine over the whole thing and covered it and allowed it to simmer for two hours.

 After two hours had passed, I removed the chicken and most of the veg from the cooking liquid.  I made a beurre manie and worked this into the liquid slowly, whisking to incorporate.

Once the sauce had thickened, I added the chicken and vegetables back (including some green peas, per Julia’s suggestion) and let it simmer a bit longer.

I served it over egg noodles with a rustic french loaf on the side.

Coq au Vin
6 chicken thighs
3 medium white onions, quartered
4 slices of bacon, diced
1 pound cremini mushrooms, halved
fresh thyme, parsley, rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 bottle red wine
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour

1. render bacon
2. add onions, cook until softened and slightly brown
3. remove onions and bacon, add chicken skin side down.  cook until brown and most of fat has rendered out.  turn over and brown slightly on other side.
4. remove chicken and pour off most of fat.
5. add mushrooms and cook until they brown.  add salt a pepper, allowing mushrooms to release some of their liquid, deglazing pan.
6. return onions, bacon and chicken to pan, along with bouquet garni (herbs wrapped in cheesecloth or coffee filter and tied together) and carrotts.
7. pour entire bottle of wine over ingredients and bring to a simmer.  allow to simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours.
8. combine softened butter and flour in small bowl and knead with fingers until a paste is formed (beurre manie).
9, remove chicken and vegetables from cooking liquid and set aside.  drop pea-sided bits of beurre manie into liquid, whisking to incorporate.  as the liquid comes to a boil, it will thicken.
10.  add chicken and veg back to thickened sauce.  serve over egg noodles.


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