Now that summer has left us, our good friend stew comes to visit.
There are a lot of good things about stew. On days when it’s a gloomy out there, stew reminds us to reach into the cupboard to get out that beloved pot that you forgot when the BBQ took over for summer. It’s time to dig out your Creuset – or whatever cast-iron pot or slow cooker you have – and soon your kitchen will fill with the aromas of stocks simmering and meat cooking at a relaxed pace. It’s a powerful tool to make us happy through these grey days.
Stews are easy to make. The variety is endless and global – an Indian vindaloo is a stew and so is a curry. Slow-cooked Mexican dishes such as beef birria are stews, as is a French cassoulet. It’s another French stew, coq au vin, that we’re making today.
The other cooking tool you’ll need is a wine glass to fill while cooking (memories of the classic CBC show The Galloping Gourmet). Indeed, the most difficult thing about making a coq au vin is deciding which bottle of wine you’re going to share with the pot.
It only takes about two hours to make. It’s among the easiest of stews because comparatively you don’t cook the chicken for long, yet it has all the joys and benefits of a stew – your house will be a fragrant wonderland of bird braising in red wine.
You can use a whole chicken or breast or thighs. I like the varying flavours and textures of different cuts, but there’s no wrong choice of which cut of chicken to cook. Experiment with your choices of ingredients because as it cooks slowly, your friend the stew will fix and forgive most any mistake you make.
My recipe is heavy on the vegetables, to keep it healthy, and they can be whatever you have on hand and want to add. The only essential solid ingredient for a coq au vin is the chicken. Otherwise, it’s just vin.
Tim O’Connor is the chef at Flora Hall Brewing.