For the last 3 or 4 weeks, Mother Nature has given us her best Confetti Parade impression – an artist gone nuts wih a palette of yellows, reds, browns and greens… and everything in between. All the while, the sun was giving the scenery her best smile in support of the shenanigans below. Hiking through our put-professionally-photoshopped-autumn-postcards-to-shame forests has been an absolutely breathtaking blast, let me tell you!
With that kind of capital-lettered AUTUMN outdoors, the sentiment has also entered our kitchen, of course with my all-time favorite autumn fruit, quinces, in tow. Many moons ago, I shared what I grew up knowing as a “normal” Coq Au Vin – a Coq Au Riesling, as it turned out in the end – with you guys right here → <clicky here for the Alsacian Coq Au Riesling recipe>. Over the years, after having realized that the rest of the world first and foremost thinks “red wine” when a Coq Au Vin is mentioned, I’ve played with, tried, tested and tweaked a “classic” Coq Au Vin recipe until, lo and behold, another “not normal” recipe which has come to be “normal” in our kitchen by now, emerged from my trusty stewpot. Dear Coq Au Vin Purists… I’m not even remotely sorry~! ♥
For 4-5 generous servings, you’ll need…
The Quince Coq Au Vin
4 Chicken Thighs, separated at the joint – whether you’d like to keep the skin on and give it a crisp or to take it off is entirely up to you
Alt: 10-12 Drumsticks
1 large Brown Onion, roughly chopped
2 Shallots, roughly chopped
1 Large Carrot, topped, tailed, peeled and sliced into ½ cm disks
100g Celery Root, peeled and sliced to match the carrots
50g Parsnip, peeled and sliced to match the carrots and celery
1 Large, ripe Quince, defuzzed, peeled, cored and diced into 1cm chunks – dump the pieces into lemoned water to keep it from browning as you go
1 Tsp Honey
1 Tbsp Concentrated Tomato Purée
4 cl Calvados or Cointreau
500ml Intense, Dry Red Wine – A hearty Bordeaux or Tempranillo both work well
400 ml Chicken Stock
1 Tsp Allspice Berries
1 Tsp Black Peppercorns
1 Star Anise
1 Tsp Hot Chilli Flakes
1 Tbsp Dried Morels
1 Tbsp Dried Wild Mushrooms – soak both of them in a glug of the wine for 1-2 hours prior to firing up the stove
2 Bay Leaves
1 Sprig of Thyme
1 Sprig of Rosemary
2 Cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
1 Strip of Lemon Peel
1 Strip of Orange Peel
30g Brown Butter
100g Panchetta or other kind of Smoky Bacon you fancy, diced
6-8 button mushrooms, roughly chopped
150g Chanterelle Mushrooms
1 Pinch of Nutmeg
1 Pinch of dried ParsleyJust a small warning before we begin: I’ve listed no particular side/accompaniment – a fresh garden salad, a crustly slice of bread or rice are the usual suspects on our table but honestly, it’s one of those “whatever floats your boat” kind of decisions to be made while you’re shopping. Sometimes a spoon may be all you need~
1) Pick up your chicken pieces, give them a once-over for grisly bits, remove them and pat the pieces dry.
2) Pop the bacon/panchetta into a wide, heavy-based pan sitting on medium-heat and render off the fat, crisping up the bits in the process.
3) Once that’s done, take the bacon out of the pan and set it aside on a paper-toweled plate for the dot on the I later. Keep the fragrant fat in the pan for the next steps.
4) If there’s not about 2 Tbsps worth of fat in the pan, balance the missing amounts out with a bit of clarified butter or ghee.
5) Slide in the chicken bits and, while turning them over every couple of minutes, fry them until they’re nicely golden all around.
6) Transfer the chicken onto a plate and cover them with a sheet of aluminum foil.
7) Drain off the quince dice and pat them as “dry” as possible with the ehlp of a few paper towels.
8) Now pop the veggie and quince dice into the waiting pan, add the garlic and drizzle the lot with the honey. Like the chicken, the veggies need a soft golden sheen around them and start to soften up, so frequently turn them over until the onions start to turn translucent.
9) Once the white veggies look deliciously golden and the onions juicy, fold in the tomato puree and deglaze the lot with the Cointreau and the wine. “Clean” up the bottom of the pan with a rubber spatula so none of the roasting aromas are lost.
10) Wrap up the whole spices, citrus peels and herbs in a piece of muslin and tie the teabag up with a piece of butcher’s string long enough to tie into place around the handle of your pan to make retrieving it later that much easier.
11) Allow the liquids to simmer down to about 1/3 of their former volume, then add the chicken pieces along with the chicken stock.
12) Turn the heat down to medium-low and place the lid on top with just a slight tilt, keeping a small wedge of an escape route open for the steam.
13) Keep the contents of your pot at a lazy simmer for 15 mins, then add the dried and soaked mushrooms.
14) Give the stew another 15 mins to simmer away to its heart’s content, then transfer the chicken out of the pan onto its plate again.
15) Turn the heat up to medium-high and reduce the remaining liquids down, again, to 1/3 of its former volume.
16) If you’re of the impatient soet, you can help the process along with a well-combined mix of 1 tbsp each of starch and water – just stir the lot into the sauce and watch it do its magic. Personally, I prefer the low and slow pace to a silky consistency. Up to you.
17) Finish off the sauce with the brown butter, pop the chicken back in and lock the lot in the pan sitting on low heat with the lid firmly shut to keep it warm for roundabout 3 mins.
18) During these 3 mins, pick up a second pan and sear the shrooms without the addition of any kind of oil or butter until they start to develop slightly browned curls around the edges.
19) Season them with a generous pinch each of salt. Pepper, nutmeg and dried parsley.
20) Give them a good toss with the crispy bacon cubes you’ve prepared earlier and get ready to serve.
21) Divvy up the very-veggy sauce and chicken pieces onto 4 plates.
22) Sprinkle the servings with the hot, shroomy mixture and…