Coq au Vin

Classic French stewed chicken recipe, with bacon, mushrooms, and pearl onions. From Julia Child.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb bacon slices
  • 20 pearl onions, peeled, or 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 3 lbs chicken thighs and legs, excess fat trimmed, skin ON
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups red wine (pinot noir, burgundy, or zinfandel)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Several fresh thyme sprigs
  • Several fresh parsley sprigs
  • 1/2 lb button mushrooms, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Method

1 Blanch the bacon to remove some of its saltiness. Drop the bacon into a saucepan of cold water, covered by a couple of inches. Bring to a boil, simmer for 5 minutes, drain. Rinse in cold water, pat dry with paper towels. Cut the bacon into 1 inch by 1/4 inch pieces.

2 Brown bacon on medium high heat in a dutch oven big enough to hold the chicken, about 10 minutes. Remove the cooked bacon, set aside. Keep the bacon fat in the pan. Working in batches if necessary, add onions and chicken, skin side down. Brown the chicken well, on all sides, about 10 minutes. Halfway through the browning, add the garlic and sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. (Note: it is best to add salt while cooking, not just at the very end. It brings out the flavor of the chicken.)

3 Spoon off any excess fat. Add the chicken stock, wine, and herbs. Add back the bacon. Lower heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until chicken is tender and cooked through. Remove chicken and onions to a separate platter. Remove the bay leaves, herb sprigs, garlic, and discard.

4 Add mushrooms to the remaining liquid and turn the heat to high. Boil quickly and reduce the liquid by three fourths until it becomes thick and saucy. Lower the heat, stir in the butter. Return the chicken and onions to the pan to reheat and coat with sauce. Adjust seasoning. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Serves 6. Serve with potatoes or over egg noodles. Peas make a good side for this dish.

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Comments

  1. Nina

    My mother coming from the french-speaking part of Belgium, she sometimes cooked coq au vin for the family. But until recently, I had never tried to cook it myself. When I found this recipe here, I decided to give it a try. And I must admit that I liked it even better than my mother’s version of this classic dish!

    Blanching the bacon worked out fine, and the sauce was way better and the taste more intense than I remembered it (I used a Bordeaux, by the way). Very good!

    Thanks, Nina (from northern Germany)

  2. Sheeijan

    I made this tonight using a lovely zinfandel from Edmeades. The chicken turned out very dark (almost purplish), which made my husband suspicious, but it tasted just fine. Blanching the bacon made a difference, I think, and wasn’t too hard a step all things considered. I think it took me about 1 1/2 hours all told to make this, for those who might be wondering. The boiling at the end to a saucy consistency took longer than I thought it would. One of the better coq au vin recipes I’ve tried, and one I will be doing again.

  3. John

    Great recipe, and it scales down quite easily as well. I tried it with just one boneless chicken breast and Merlot for the wine.

    Only one problem. I ate half the bacon while going through the remainder of step 2!

  4. Julian

    Great recipe…If you guys like, other vegetables like celery and carrot go great in this. I served mine over a bed of rice cooked in chicken stock (you’ll probably have enough left over) and saffron. Awesome dish.

  5. Yinghong

    Been there done that! Thanks for an easy to follow recipe. My picky Swedish boyfriend said it was tasty! He asked if I really loved cooking… ye, I am starting to. I wonder if this dish can be better e.g. add some Italian chili pickles… to spice up the dish. Any ideas? I used a fruity wine, cotes du rhone. Not very good I must say. So don’t try that! Follow the recipe.
    Lots of love in food, don’t you agree?

  6. Amber

    This is one of several recipes that I’ve tried from this site. I’ve actually started coming here more than Epicurious! This got rave reviews. I used a beaujolais neuveau (sp?). Not my first choice, but my fiance can’t handle the histamines in red wine (according to an allergist — most folks are not allergic to tannins, but to the histamines in red wines) … they make him red in the face immediately, so I have to use the very young “first press” kind of wines rather than ones with more body (my favorites). Any thoughts on if these would cook out of wine?

  7. Deb

    My husband loves Coq au Vin. Recently we were in Prague and went to a Belgium restaurant where he ordered Coq au Vin that he loved and at that time asked me again (after 15 years of marriage) would I please learn how to make this dish, so he comes home from filming in 1 week and tomorrow I use the neighbors for tasting to see if I can get this right. Thanks for a recipe that isnt to involved, others have been way too much work!!

  8. Craig Elliott

    What wine do you serve with the meal? I am interested in serving this to friends that are all wine perfectionist.

  9. Jeroen

    I love Coq au Vin as well! I made it for last Christmas’ diner, along with a few additional French dishes. Again it tasted great!

    However, I have a general question about chicken. I really don’t like bones and skin. So I usually use boneless and skinless chicken breasts as a substitute. However, the bones and skin do give the sauce additional flavor and makes it a bit thicker. I just add corn starch and/or some chicken broth to make the sauce richer and thicker.

    Again, this is not specific to Coq au Vin. I do the same thing for Asian curries, Mexican dishes, and such. What do you recommend?

    Thanks in advance, and keep up the good work with this fantastic blog!

    Jeroen…

  10. Elise

    Hi Jeroen-

    If you are not cooking with bone-in and skin on, you are missing out on a lot. The marrow in the bones that dissolve into the stew while cooking is filled with important nutrients. Also there is so much flavor in the browned skins! As children we used to fight for the skins. So my advice is to use bone-in and skin on whenever a recipe calls for it, and most of mine do.

  11. Stewart Follows (Australia)

    G’Day,
    Always wanted to try “Coq au Vin”, picked this version off the Internet because it looked simple. Was a raging success with the wife. She insists I make it a regular. Used an Australian Hunter Valley Shiraz (of course), and added some carrots to the mix. Yummy. Thanks a lot.

  12. Kyle

    Great recipe, reminds me the Coq au Vin a nanny I had growing up would make. She was from England. Did it a bit different, no pearl onions, and it was basically just the chicken and bacon mixed together with white rice. She would let it slow cook with the rice and it was just a nice twist on the traditional.

    And here’s a little tip for the pearl onions: blanch them and they will just pop right out of the skin! Well, not in the water, but when you take them out. Great time saver so you don’t have to peel all those little guys.

  13. Sarah

    Thanks for this great recipe!! I added carrots & celery because FH loves them and he’s going to be the one eating it (I’m vegetarian lol). Smelled incredible!!

  14. Chris

    Forrget the bacon – you need to use slab ham or lardon in French and dice into cubes. My wife lived in Dijon where this recipe orginates from and we currently live south of Paris in Montlhery. The slab bacon is the key and don’t ever use carrots – that is not traditional! Best of luck.

  15. Chris

    Craig Elliot – Obviously since this is from Dijon you must pair with the best red Burgundy you can afford – a Nuit St. Georges or a Pommard! Bon appetit!

  16. Jeroen

    Thanks for this great recipe. I used it yesterday as a basic recipe for my own Coq au Vin. I used 2 chickens and a bottle of South African Shiraz. I added a couple of carrots, 2 red peppers and I used dried mushrooms that I soaked in some of the wine for an hour before I added them. Served with small boiled in the skin potatoes and a big spicy salad. We had an excellent Christmas Eve diner.

  17. Alexa

    Loved your coq au vin recipe! I made it last night and it was delicious. I used the Pinot Noir (someone had given us a bottle over the holidays). I used reduced-salt bacon and skipped the blanching step — result was fine. I halved the recipe but kept all the mushrooms. Thanks for the great recipe.

  18. Gorette

    Love this also with white wine. The first time I ever had coq au vin was at a friend’s home in NY 25 years ago. They served it with a grapefruit/avacado salad with a light vinegrette which was an exquisite flavor match.

    But I’ve never made it with 6 cloves of garlic. Doesn’t that overwhelm the flavors?

  19. Docsam

    This is a totally terrific recipe. As I’m a French guy, I’m absolutly fond of “Coq au vin”. I personally use to prepare it with carrots and serve it with pasta (tagliatelles in French) but that’s a detail :)

  20. ajfabb

    If you’re actually using a free-range rooster–even a younger one–you probably need to cook more than 20 minutes.

    My former back yard rooster’s legs were still chewy at even 30 minutes. For a real rooster, an hour would be a good starting point.

  21. Kathy

    Thank you for the easy recipe! I made this for a Sunday dinner for 8 people. I added carrots and celery, and used pancetta for bacon. Served over roasted young potatoes. This turned out wonderful.

  22. Anne

    I’ve made this recipe before and LOVE it. Instead of the traditional american christmas dinner of turkey and sides, I’m making this for christmas dinner this year. Any suggestions on side dishes that accompany this dish? Any ideas would be appreciated! My mom also had the idea of making some sort of salmon, but every recipe i can find doesn’t seem to go with the spices in coq au vin. I dont have to make the salmon- that’s just a thought. Thanks from a college student cooking for the entire family by herself because they are coming from a different state. :)

  23. Sharon

    Hi – I made this recipe and was a bit disappointed. By the time it reduced enough to be saucy, there was not enough volume to cover all the chicken pieces. Also, I’m not huge on salt, however blanching the bacon took out too much of the “umph” that makes using bacon interesting.

    Next time around I plan to try the following:
    – blanch the bacon for a shorter window of time
    – douse the chicken in flour before browning
    – increase the amt of wine by 1 cup to increase both volume of sauce and strength of taste
    – add baby carrots along with the mushrooms

  24. Simon Jester

    Nice recipe. However The reasoning for “blanching” the bacon is not to reduce the salt but to break up the fat Molecules allowing you to create crunchy “lardons” rather than chewy ones, they hold up much better in the sauce. Also I recommend using salt pork not bacon as most bacon is smoked and if you get the non sliced kind you can cut it into small cubes (lardons). Also in order to blanch, just add a very small amount of water to the pan (small!) and allow it to boil around your pork until evaporated. It should take no more than a minute or two. Bacon should always be cooked in this way when frying. The Pinot noir Is the only wine I would choose for this dish, the Burgundy will send the chicken off balance and the Zin will make it taste like Kool aid.

  25. Sathi

    If you don’t like the skin, I would suggest you dredge the skinless chicken pieces in some all purpose flour mixed with salt, pepper and some herb seasoning and then shallow fry the pieces to a golden brown before adding the wine to it. This not only gives it a skin-like texture to it, but also seals in the juices and makes it more tender and moist. Also, the flour helps thicken the sauce as it cooks. I also throw in chunks of carrot or parsnip in the dish as I cook it and they cook beautifully. It may not be traditional, but is delicious!

  26. Michelle

    The liquid doesnt seem to want to reduce. What could I be doing wrong?

    I suggest turning up the heat. ~Elise

  27. Deb

    Okay, I read a LOT of food blogs – you were my first and still are my favorite. I have cooked many wonderful things but only have written in ONE time to comment on a recipe that was as delicious as I dreamed it would be – your Hungarian Goulash with Dumplings. Now, we just finished eating this Coq au Vin and I had to write to you again to tell you how much we appreciate you and all that you (and your mom & dad) do for us. I envy all of you food bloggers your passion, energy and talent! I am an American living in France and if you’re ever in Nancy stop by for a drink and a bite.

    Thanks Deb, so glad you liked it! ~Elise

  28. carol k

    When I cooked the chicken the skin came off and stuck to the pan so my chicken looks “skinned”.
    What did I do wrong?

    No idea. ~Elise

  29. Char

    I am new to French cooking and have been invited to bring a side dish to accompany Coq au Vin. Could someone kindly suggest a selection of side dishes to acompany this recipe? It needs to be something that can be made in advance and will travel well.

  30. BG

    If your chicken is sticking to the pan, you’re trying to move it too soon after starting to cook. Make sure the pan / oil is hot when you add the chicken, and don’t try to move it until it has had a minute or so to brown. It should release easily.

  31. Ashley

    I would buy a hunk of Canadian bacon so that it doesn’t need to be blanched. You pare the rind and cut the remaining into thick, long strips. Brown the bacon and rind in the oil and continue normally. Its easier and tastes better than with American bacon.

  32. Stephanie

    I made this today and it turned out wonderful! I didn’t have any problem with the sauce, it simmered down perfectly.

  33. Nick

    We made this today with a Sharaz and it turned out great!
    One of us prefers boneless skinless chicken breasts, so we used 1lb drumsticks and 2lbs breasts.

    We weren’t sure what to do with the bacon, so we left it in the sauce as it simmered down. It was delicious in the final dish!

  34. Lew

    Made a half recipe using 4 thighs (there’s just my son and me). I’ve had this dish in restaurants and I must admit, this version is as good as they get. It’s probably healthier too since you get to control the amount of sodium and fats. To change things up, I used rigatoni (because it’s big and “meaty”) instead of egg noodles. Red wine was Chianti. Thanks to the many excellent recipes on this website, I always have fresh thyme and flat leaf parsley on hand so the only unique ingredient I needed was pearl onions.

    Going off topic, I figured out how to keep parsley fresh in the refrigerator for a month or more. Purchase the freshest bunch you can find and when you get it home, cleanly trim the stems using a very sharp knife (I remove about an inch off the bottom and keep the bundle together with a rubber band). Find a plastic container about 3-4 inches in diameter and about 4 inches tall, take a paper towel and fold into quarters and stuff it flat inside the container bottom. Add clean water to moisten the towel plus 1/4 inch of standing water. (I recycled a prepared icing container.) Place the parsley into the container so the freshly cut ends are in contact with the water and paper towel. Tent the “flower pot” using a produce/fruit plastic bag (special green color keep-fresh bags featuring microscopic holes). Closed end on top and open end on bottom. Don’t seal the bag, just let the open end rest on the refrigerator shelf. As you use the parsley, pick off any yellowed leaves and stems then change the water or paper towel as needed. If you can’t find the special keep fresh bags, you can use the grocery store plastic produce bag as the tent — however leaves that touch the plastic will yellow quickly so wrap or drape the parsley bundle top with a paper towel before tenting.

  35. Carl

    I love your blog, I refer to it all the time. First time making this and it was great. I noticed Julia Child’s and Alton Brown’s version called for tomatoes…hmm, I might try that next time.

    I did use lardons because I can get them them here easily. I did the par boil thing and it took too much of the fat out. Guess I did it too long.

    Mine didn’t stick at all- for those of you with that problem- make sure you get a decent quality Dutch oven like Staub or Le Cruset and get it up to operating temp before frying the chicken. It’s nice stuff, lasts a lifetime, and worth the cost if cooking is really your hobby as it is for me.

    I didn’t have a problem with purple chicken either- add the stock first then the wine and use a real Burgundy. A true burgundy has a light body and won’t stain your chicken. Also- it goes great with the meal- I used a nice one from Beaune that was six euros a bottle. Very drinkable.
    Eet Smaaklijk,
    Carl
    The Hague

  36. Louise

    I am a complete novice when it comes to French cooking, but after watching Julie and Julia. I decided to buy her cookbook (for a friend of mine). We made this classic dish together (well more she made and I watched), but after watching her do it a couple of times. I now feel confident to give it a try myself and I have to say this receipe looks eaiser than the book.

    Wish me luck!!!

  37. Yvonne

    This is a great recipe but how do I get the skin to be crispy again after I cook it? It is crispy when I brown it but then after cooking it in the chicken stock and wine it becomes a bit soggy. How to I get it to regain that nice crispy skin?

    You don’t. It’s sort of stew-like, which means no crispy skin. ~Elise