This traditional coq au vin recipe is a classic French stew made with chicken, bacon, and vegetables braised in red wine to make a hearty, comforting, one-pot dinner.
There are certain classic meals everyone should learn to make and coq au vin is one of them. I have a lot of go-to comfort food dishes, like my Mom’s pot roast, or spaghetti with meat sauce but coq au vin possesses a certain sophistication. The dish is unfussy and humble in appearance, but don’t let that deceive you. Anyone who’s had it knows it’s something special.
The French phrase “coq au vin” means chicken cooked in red wine, in English. It’s a rich, savory stew of chicken with chunks of carrot, mushrooms, and onion braised in a deep, lush, red-wine infused sauce that for all its flavor, is surprisingly easy to make.
This recipe starts on the stove then finishes in the oven, making it just as perfect for company as a lazy weekend dinner. What I love most about this coq au vin recipe is it is rich and complex with layers of rich flavor but doesn’t take hours to make like others you’ll find. I serve it with buttery parsley noodles, or creamy mashed potatoes, or polenta, alongside a hunk of baguette and a glass of the red I cooked it in. And if you close your eyes while eating it, you will totally be transported to a 100-year-old bistro in the Marais. C’est bon.
What’s in This Coq au Vin?
Coq au vin originated in the Burgundy region of France and used to be considered a peasant dish, because it was made with simple, inexpensive ingredients. However, over time it’s morphed into a more refined version and has become a classic French staple, largely thanks to Julia Child.
Coq au vin has quite an extensive ingredients list, but most of the ingredients you need are likely already in your fridge and pantry.
Here’s what you’ll need to make this coq au vin:
- Chicken — bone-in, skin-on breasts, thighs, and legs
- Dry red wine (something you would enjoy drinking, but preferably a Burgundy, pinot noir, or Beaujolais)
- Bacon (the thicker the better)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Yellow onion (frozen pearl onions or shallots would also work great here)
- Tomato paste (I use double concentrated sold in the tube)
- Fresh thyme sprigs
- Bay leaf
- Chicken stock (I keep a stash of my homemade stock in the freezer)
- Cremini mushrooms
- All-purpose flour
How to Make Coq au Vin
Use a whole chicken or a combination of your favorite parts. A combination of white and dark meat is excellent in this dish. You can break down the bird yourself, or have your butcher do it for you. Or, choose your favorite pieces of bone-in, skin-on chicken instead. Using bone-in chicken parts keeps the meat moist and adds more flavor to the dish.
Give your bird a quick wine bath. Place the chicken in a large bowl and pour the wine over top. Let marinate at room temperature for about 10 minutes while you get started with the recipe.
Cook the bacon. Fry up the bacon until golden and slightly crisp, and use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon to a paper towel (but be sure to leave that leave the fat in the pot, because fat = flavor.
Brown the Chicken
Remove the chicken from the wine marinade (save the wine for later use). Pat it dry with a paper towel and season all over with salt and the pepper. Brown your chicken in the Dutch oven, skin-side down and brown for about 5 minutes, then flip and brown another 5 minutes.
Start the Sauce
Cook your veggies & start building your sauce. Cook the veggies separately from the chicken for maximum flavor and texture. Add the onion first, then the carrots, and cook until lightly browned. Then add the garlic and tomato paste, stir, and sauté for 1 minute. Add the bacon, thyme, bay leaf, and reserved wine, and bring to a simmer. Stir and scrape the bottom of the pan to help release all those yummy bits.
Cook the tomato paste to deepen the sauce’s flavor. The richness of this sauce develops with cooking the tomato paste with the vegetables so it loses its raw flavor.
Begin the Braise
Braise the chicken and let everything get real happy. Add the chicken stock and the chicken, cover with the lid, and place in the oven to cook for 40 minutes. Remove the pot from the oven.
Sauté the mushrooms. Sauté the mushrooms by themselves until golden brown (cooking them earlier with the other veggies will overcrowd them and release too much moisture). I do this while cooking the noodles or mashed potatoes to serve it with.
Thicken the Sauce
Make a beurre manié to thicken your sauce. In a small bowl, mash the softened butter and flour together to create what the French call a beurre manié. This method keeps the sauce from becoming lumpy. Stir a bit of the coq au vin sauce into the butter mixture before adding the lot to the pot, stirring until the gravy is smooth.
Remove the chicken from the sauce before adding the buerre manié. Less stuff in the sauce makes it easier to create a smooth sauce.
Simmer to Thicken
Add the sautéed mushrooms and get ready to serve. Simmer the sauce for about 10 minutes, time the flour and butter to do their magic and thicken the sauce and lushly coat the browned chicken.
What Does Coq au Vin Taste Like?
Coq au Vin tastes like a rich, saucy, savory stew. The pan drippings from the chicken, fond from the veggies, and the red wine all mingle together to make a complex, savory stew with layers of flavors.
What is the Difference Between Coq au Vin and Beef Bourguignon?
Hailing from the Burgundy region of France, Beef Bourguignon is made with beef, while coq au vin is made with chicken. They’re both rich, saucy, and hearty stews of meat and veggies braised in red wine. They each started out as rustic peasant dishes and have evolved over time to be associated as higher quality dishes made with finer cuts of meat and better quality ingredients. They’re also very similar in terms of their ingredients and how they’re made — the main difference is the proteins at play.
What is Traditionally Served with Coq au Vin?
Coq au vin is a saucy dish, so you want to serve it with something that can soak up all of that delicious gravy. Here are some ideas of what to serve with your coq au vin:
- The Best Buttery Parsley Boiled Potatoes
- THE BEST Soft Creamy Polenta
- Roasted Asparagus
- The BEST Mashed Potatoes Recipe
- Mashed Cauliflower with Parmesan and Chives
- Buttered egg noodles (I love tagliatelle)
- And of course you can never go wrong with a hunk of crusty baguette
More Comfort Food Dishes to Try
- Beef Bourguignon
- Red Wine Braised Short Ribs
- The BEST Meatloaf Recipe
- Easy Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo
- Mom’s BEST Pot Roast Recipe
- Swedish Meatballs
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