Julie, Julia and You

With the recent buzz around the Julia Child movie, there's been a renewed interest in French cooking. In fact, her watershed Mastering the Art of French Cooking - almost a half-century after its initial publication - just hit the top spot in its category on The New York Times' Best Sellers List.

Leave it to Kitchen Magician to boil Julia's Art down to a simple French-in-a-flash masterpiece.

But, unlike the modern-day main character of Julie & Julia (Julie Powell, who gamely pulled off the feat of cooking all 500+ insanely complicated recipes of MTAOFC in a single year), I don't like my weeknight meals to involve a lot of fuss. I'd no sooner peel lamb brains after work on a Wednesday than, well, I'd actually eat lamb brains. I'm all for going gourmet when I have the time, but during the week I like my food easy, and I typically like it NOW.

So Serious Eats' version of the classic French Coq au Vin is right up my alley. Fewer than 10 ingredients, less than $10 for two, less than 2 hours cooking time... yes, this is truly Kitchen Magic. Though, like our recent Sorta Paella, this one will have food purists crying (sorry) fowl. So we'll stick with Serious Eats' moniker of Coq au Two-Buck-Chuck*. That ought to keep the French food snobs at bay!

* a reference to the palatable but decidedly low-rent wine the recipe calls for. Feel free to sub your own cheap-but-tasty vintage.

Coq au Two-Buck Chuck
serves 2
Recipe via Serious Eats

Ingredients

3 strips bacon, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
6 pieces skin-on, dark-meat chicken (mix of thighs and drumsticks)
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
Large yellow onion, finely sliced
Large carrot, cut in 1/2-inch rounds
Garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon flour
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons Charles Shaw merlot
Bay leaf
Parsley, leaves only, minced

Directions

Place the bacon in a large, heavy pot and cook over low heat until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp. Remove bacon from pan and set aside.

Increase heat to medium-high. Sear chicken pieces in bacon fat until golden brown, 3-4 minutes per side. Remove chicken pieces and set aside.

Pour off fat, reserving 1 tablespoon in pan. Add carrots, onions and garlic and sauté until onions are soft and just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with flour, stir to distribute, and sauté for an additional minute. Deglaze pan with 2 tablespoons of wine, scraping up all the sucs, or brown bits, with a wooden spoon.

Return chicken and bacon to the pan. Add bay leaf and remaining red wine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the sauce is mellow and thickened, and the carrots tender but not disintegrating. Check and adjust seasoning.

Serve with your favorite potato dish, or thick egg noodles. Sprinkle with minced parsley before serving.


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