Coq au Vin and the Julia Child 100

Last week we had the opportunity to welcome six young laying hens to our little homestead and, as a consequence, we ‘harvested’ our older, non-laying hens. Conveniently, this week’s recipe in the Julie Child 100 club was Coq au Vin, a a classic French recipe that turns tougher, less-desirable cuts of chicken into a delectable dish.

Boy, did I have the chicken for that dish. I froze the breasts from the hens in a buttermilk & dijon marinade, turned the carcasses into stock, and that left just the legs for braising.

I simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity to prepare Coq au Vin for the 100 club, especially with our own homegrown chicken. Read on to find out more about the JC100…and how it all turned out for me.

The Beauty of Coq au Vin

It’s hard to say no to a beautiful family-style dish of Coq au Vin or chicken braised in red wine. The flavors build upon each other, beginning with bacon (rightfully so) and continuing with an entire bottle of red wine. A sprinkling of parsley garnishes the chicken pieces and plump button mushrooms and the whole dish is served over hot buttered egg noodles, stroganoff-style.

You could also serve the braise with small boiled new potatoes, however, we love Ronzoni Healthy Harvest Whole Wheat Blend Wide Noodles. These egg-white only noodles cook up quickly and contain a blend of Durum whole wheat flour & semolina that gives them a lovely tender texture. Be sure to cook them slightly al dente, as they will absorb the sauce and continue cooking slightly as they come to the table.

Julia Child’s recipe for Coq au Vin is considerably longer and more complicated than my version below. I’ve simplified it somewhat and made some changes, such as leaving out the onion garnish.

In the original recipe, Julia (rightfully, traditionally,) includes brown-braised onions, however I omitted them as I am really watching my consumption of vegetables from the onion family because I am nursing Clara. I do use onions in the making of the stock though.

Instead of baby onions in the recipe, I doubled up on the mushrooms, which are lovely and meaty, and help to stretch the dish a little further.

What is the JC 100?

Culinary icon Julia Child would have turned 100 years old on August 15th of this year. To honor her, our friends at Julia Child’s publisher, Alfred A. Knopf launched a campaign involving restaurants, chefs, bookstores, and bloggers, all celebrating Julia and her legacy.

I am one of 100 (I’m guessing a lot more than that, actually) food bloggers posting a version of a Julia Child recipe between now and August. Join this tribute to the First Lady of French cooking by following @JC100 and the hashtag #JC100 on Twitter and liking the Julia Child Facebook page.

How it ended

As it turned out, we never ate the old layer’s legs. I braised them low and slow for over four hours, and, upon tasting, decided that they would never be tender. No matter. I strained the beautiful sauce and used it for the batch of plump chicken legs that you see in the photos.

I got 10 quarts of incredible stock from those birds, but the meat was inedible. Sufficient to say, if someone offers you old laying hens, don’tĀ envision preparing a succulent roast chicken dinner with them, or you’ll be setting yourself up for disappointment.

This dish was a massive hit with the kids (served with a side of steamed broccoli to round it out) thanks to the tender chicken, the bacon bits, and gravy-coated noodles. It was an unusually quiet dinner!

I’m guessing this could also be made in the slowcooker. I aim to try that out next.