FOOD: Take Your Friends On A Trip!
Updated: Jan 22, 2021
It's the first week in August and already summer seems a distant memory. This is the month when we realize that summer is coming close to an end and we are trying to make the most of the remaining days. For some it's planning the last summer holiday before the children have to prepare to return to school. For others it's soaking up the last of the summer sun by inviting friends over for a barbecue or summer meals out in the garden. This summer has forced many to stay close to home and has limited, and in some cases, banned traveling to some of our favorite summer destinations. But all is not lost! As we plan the last of the summer parties and garden dinners, bring the flavors of your travels home. Transform your party into a holiday and take your guest to your favorite summer destination by making some of the local cuisine. Since Paris is one of my favorite summer destinations (well....actually any season to be fair) I decided to take my guest to France by cooking a traditional French dish: Coq Au Vin!!!
I know, Coq Au Vin doesn't sound like a summery dish. But I didn't make Coq Au Vin with red wine. I made Coq Au Vin Blanc!!! Yes, Coq Au Vin Blanc. Coq Au Vin Blanc is pretty much the same recipe but made with white wine instead of red wine and I have to say it's absolutely delicious. The first time I made Coq Au Vin was in high school when my french language class teacher (she was from France) gave us the homework assignment to cook and bring to class a traditional french dish. I decided to try my hand at Coq Au Vin. At the time it seemed very complicated and intimidating but I actually discovered Coq Au Vin is one of the easiest tastiest dishes to make. The best of the best one pot meals anyone can ever make. Plus it looks impressive, and telling your dinner guest you're serving Coq Au Vin Blanc....well they will be impressed. Just don't tell them you didn't have to slave over the stove all day. We will keep that secret between us. Coq Au Vin Blanc is pretty much made the same way as Coq Au Vin with just a few alterations. Plus we want to keep the dish light with the flavors of summer. So with just a few simple steps and adding fresh herbs, you can have a gorgeous elegant dinner for friends in your garden, bringing them the flavors of France. First Step: Make sure you start with fresh high quality ingredients and the freshest chicken you can find. I suggest going to your local butcher and having them section the chicken for you. Hard part over. Now time to bring all your ingredients together.
You will need the following: * Whole Chicken Sectioned (Or you can use chicken thighs but make sure you use bone-in for the extra flavor. Also prep Chicken making sure skin is dry and salt and pepper) * White Wine (I used Chardonnay because I love the heaviness for cooking) * Lardons (Bacon for my American friends) * Mushrooms (I used a mixture of Shiitake and Oyster) * Garlic * Shallots * Thyme (I used lemon thyme) * Rosemary * Olive Oil * Butter * Salt and Pepper to taste * Chili Flakes (optional) Note: If you prefer you can substitute the thyme and rosemary with tarragon and chives. Another classic French mix of herbs that pair well with chicken. Second Step: Sautee lardons with a little olive oil in a skillet until crispy. Once crispy set aside on a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up any excess oil. Do not clean the skillet.
Third Step: Brown chicken in the same skillet on both sides. Also, remember chicken will continue to brown in the oven so brown just enough to start getting the skin crispy. I hope you kept that skin on the chicken but it's ok if you didn't you can still do this step. But wait, do not clean the pan yet as we will have one more step to complete later.
Fourth Step: Place chicken in a roasting pan or dutch oven and top with lardons, shallots, thyme, rosemary, add a bit more salt and pepper to taste and drizzle of olive oil. Also, if you desire, a sprinkle of chili flakes.
Fifth Step: Now ready for the oven! How simple is that? Roast in a preheated 350 F or 180C for approximately 40 minutes.
Sixth Step: While chicken is cooking add a little more oil to the pan and butter. Enough to make a sauce. Sautee mushrooms and garlic. Once chicken has roasted for approximately 40 minutes take sauteed mushrooms, butter and garlic and pour over chicken adding approximately 2 cups of white wine. Let cook for an additional 20-30 minutes. Or if using a meat thermometer until the chickens internal temperature is 165F or 75C. Seventh and final step is to remove from the oven and sprinkle with fresh parsley before serving. Serve with a simple salad, mash potatoes or a summer vegetable like asparagus or green french beans. And to soak up that lovely sauce have a few french baguettes placed around the table for your guest to grab.
So enjoy the rest of the summer with family and friends. The world may not be open to us but we can still explore the world right at our very own kitchen tables.