Monday, December 10, 2012

Slow Cooker Coq au Vin

Perfect Pairing:  Elegant dinner party
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Right after my parents moved into their new home I made a quick trip to help them get settled and unpack.  I mentioned in this cupcake post that I was really not much help to them because I was completely distracted by the kitchen and wanted to cook the entire time. 
 
I truly did have good intentions to help, and when I was thinking about what to make for the weekend I thought chicken in the slow cooker would be a great idea.  I could prepare it in the morning and forget about it all day while we unpacked.  Then I got the brilliant idea to make Coq au Vin in the slow cooker.  Well I am so glad I did because it was absolutely delicious, but it was not your standard “throw it in and forget about it” slow cooker recipe.  Not even a little bit.  Admittedly, there are multiple steps in this recipe and a lot of ingredients, but it is totally worth it.  It makes a delicious dish that is rich and comforting.  Trust me, it was scrumptious.
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The benefit of using a slow cooker in this recipe is not convenience, but rather it makes the chicken fall off the bone tender.  Letting the wine simmer for hours with the vegetables and herbs gives the sauce a lot of depth.  It may seem strange to throw away the carrots, celery, etc., after it cooks but they are in the recipe purely to add flavor to the sauce.  Of course, Coq au Vin is best served with homemade mashed potatoes so you can fully enjoy the fantastic sauce.
The Perfect Pairing for this recipe is an elegant dinner party.  I made this dish for myself and my parents but we all remarked that it would be great at a nice dinner party.  Ok, so maybe my dad did not say this, but I am sure he agreed with us.  I am hoping to make this for my family on Christmas.  It makes the entire house smells rich and fabulous.  Don’t be dissuaded by the steps and ingredients.  You will feel like Julia Child when you put this on the table.
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Slow Cooker Coq au Vin
Lindsay at Perfecting the Pairing

Ingredients:
·         ½ cup flour
·         ½ tsp onion powder
·         ½ tsp paprika
·         ½ tsp salt
·         ½ tsp pepper
·         4-5 lb bone in chicken (hind quarters)
·         8 oz thick cut bacon, chopped
·         15 oz frozen pearl onions, defrosted
·         16 oz mushrooms (button or cremini)
·         3 carrots, cut into quarters
·         3 stalks celery, cut into quarters
·         1 onion, quartered
·         1 bay leaf
·         4 sprigs of thyme
·         3 cloves garlic, smashed
·         2 bottles (750 ml, each) red wine (Pinot Noir or Burgandy)
·         3 Tb tomato paste
·         2 cups chicken broth
·         ¼ cup flour (optional)
·         Salt and pepper, to taste
Directions:
Line a baking sheet with foil and top with a cooling rack, set aside.  In a large Ziploc bag combine the ½ cup flour, onion powder, paprika, salt, and pepper.  Shake to combine.  Coat each piece of chicken by shaking in the bag with the flour mixture, tapping off any excess.  Allow them to rest on the cooling rack until the flour has set, about 10 minutes.
Cook the bacon in a large sauté pan until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel lined plate.  After removing the bacon from the pan, add the pearl onions and cook in the remaining bacon grease until soft and caramelized.  Remove the onions from the pan and transfer to a bowl.  Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook until softened and they have released most of their moisture.  Add the mushrooms to the pearl onions along with the bacon and refrigerate until ready to make the sauce.
In the same pan, brown the chicken on both sides in batches to not crowd the pan.
While browning the chicken add the carrots, celery, onion, bay leaf, thyme, and garlic to a large slow cooker.  Once the chicken is done, add it to the slow cooker.  Do not add the pearl onions, mushrooms, and bacon at this time.
Deglaze the sauté pan with about 1 cup of red wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any brown bits.  Stir in the tomato paste and cook until the tomato paste has melted into the wine.  Pour the tomato and wine mixture over the chicken.  Pour the rest of the wine (both bottles) and the chicken broth into the slow cooker.  Cook on high for four hours or on low for six to eight hours, or until the chicken is cooked through and tender. 
Transfer the chicken to a baking pan, cover with foil, and keep warm in a low oven.  Pour the remaining ingredients in the slow cooker through a colander into a large saucepan straining out all of the vegetables and herbs.  You can dispose of these.  Bring the wine sauce to a boil over medium heat and reduce heat to a simmer and allow the sauce to reduce by about one half.  If the sauce does not seem to be thickening you can thicken it with a flour mixture.  Mix ¼ cup flour in ½ cup hot water until combined, whisk into the wine sauce.  Allow to simmer until it thickens and reaches the consistency of thin gravy. 
Stir in the pearl onions, mushrooms, and bacon until they are warmed through.  Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.  Add in the chicken and stir gently to coat with the sauce.  Serve with mashed potatoes.

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