As with many meals I make on a weeknight, the genesis of the idea sparks when I have too much of something hanging around my kitchen. This time, it was red wine.
I’m a devout beer drinker and drink nothing else, except for the occasional cocktail at a restaurant or rare glass of white wine; never red. So when I was gifted with a good bottle of red wine that I knew I could never finish before it went bad, I decided to cook with it. And what did I make? Coq au Vin.
I know you may be saying, “how obvious,” and it is; but that’s where the similarities stop. I love taking inspiration from an obvious choice, like the traditional chicken braised in red wine, but changing it to my own tastes. And most importantly, make it easier to cook.
The traditional version calls for stewing chicken in red wine for a couple hours and garnishing it with pearl onions, mushrooms, and bacon: all browned separately, and placed around the dish afterward.
My take eschews all the fancy elements and bacon to make it slightly lighter, and turns the classic dish into a one-dish stew, of sorts. I start by browning off the chicken and then cooking vegetables together with tomato paste and herbs, and finally, the red wine. It all goes into a baking dish and into the oven to bake until the chicken is falling off the bone and the wine is reduced to a lip-smacking sauce.
I throw in some glazed pearl onions with peas only because I love those little things so much, but that’s as far as any extra cooking goes. It’s a simple preparation that delivers all the flavor of the original with far less effort.
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Oven-Baked Chicken in Red Wine
Serves 4 to 6
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 chicken parts, two each breasts, thighs and drumsticks
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
2 medium ribs celery, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups chicken stock, divided
2-1/2 cups red wine
A couple sprigs of thyme, rosemary and marjoram
1 cup pearl onions
1 cup frozen peas
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Cooked white rice, for serving
- Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and then add to oil, skin side down; cook until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
- Add onion, carrots and celery to skillet, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and beginning to brown, about 12 minutes. Add Worcestershire sauce and continue cooking until sauce is evaporated and vegetables are browned, about 4 to 6 minutes more. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, until it begins sticking to the bottom of the pan, about 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of the chicken stock and stir until evenly combined. Add wine and herbs, and bring to a boil; let cook for 5 minutes. Pour into a 9- x 13-inch rectangular or oval baking dish, and place chicken, skin side-up, in the sauce.
- Heat oven to 425°F. Place baking dish in oven and cook until sauce is reduced and chicken is cooked through, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, place pearl onions, peas, remaining 1 cup chicken stock and butter in a 10-inch skillet and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook, swirling skillet occasionally, until onions and peas are cooked through and all liquid is evaporated, leaving a light brown glaze on the onions, about 10 minutes.
- Serve the chicken with wine sauce on a bed of rice, garnished with some of the pearl onions and peas.
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