by Bill St. John
For May 29, Coq au Vin Day, here is a recipe from Jacques Pepin, via me and my mother, Madeleine St. John, who taught this recipe in her Denver cooking school, La Bonne Cuisine. Mom was a French-speaking Belgian, from the southern region of Belgium known as Wallonia, and was, as a consequence, partial to French recipes for her cooking.
This is a turn on a traditional “coq au vin” that is of the sort that a hunter would be able to make, utilizing mushrooms from the forest floor. (The hunter would need to have a fine pantry back at the cabin, though; the recipe calls for all sorts of things that he - or she - wouldn’t typically carry in a hunting rucksack, for example demi-glace. My mother used beef demi-glace for this recipe, but I prefer chicken, other fowl or veal demi-glace.)
The recipe also can be made for those who do not use wine in cooking; see the note please.
Hunter’s Chicken (Poulet Chasseur)
1 tablespoon butter
1 3-pound chicken, quartered
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1 clove garlic, peeled, crushed and chopped fine
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 large tomato, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
6-8 mushrooms, sliced (coarser stems removed)
1/2 cup chicken, other fowl or veal demi-glace
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped fine
1/2 tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped fine
Salt and freshly grated black pepper to taste
Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan and brown the chicken over medium heat for 10-12 minutes, starting with the skin side down and turning the chicken after 5-6 minutes of browning. Add the chopped onion and sauté for 15-20 minutes. Add the garlic, white wine, tomato, tomato paste, bay leaf and thyme. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms. Cover and simmer another 5 minutes. Using a spoon, transfer the chicken and solids to a dish and keep warm. Add the demi-glace to the drippings, bring to a boil and reduce to 1 cup. Season, add parsley and tarragon; pour on top of the chicken and serve at once with boiled new potatoes.
Note: To prepare this without alcohol, substitute for the white wine 1/2 cup “light” 100 percent apple juice.
Adapted by Madeleine and Bill St. John from Jacques Pepin, New Complete Techniques, revised edition.