I’ve been kicking around the idea of making a coq au vin for a while now. But it’s a two-day process, according to the Les Halles Cookbook, and I just never remembered to start it a full day before I planned to serve it. But finally, this weekend, I got my act together.
Do you have the Les Halles Cookbook? No? Quel dommage! It was one of the better Christmas presents I got two years ago. Not only do you have Anthony Bourdain guiding you through recipes with his no-bullshit banter, but the recipes themselves are wonderful. And the design is gorgeous. I mean, really, a lot of thought was put into this book from start to finish. The butcher paper cover (hardcover ed.), the plain, serviceable, but elegant fonts, and the pictures announce exactly what you’ll get when you start reading — a no-nonsense approach to cooking some damned fine no-nonsense food.
So I started with the easy part — marinating the chicken and vegetables in red wine overnight. Even though I was warned right there in the recipe that this dish would start off pretty nasty, I didn’t think what 24 hours in red wine would really do to a whole chicken, and found myself unprepared for the horror that emerged from the fridge 24 hours later:
You know, I’ve been a carnivore all my life, but until today, I’ve never once thought of my food as a corpse. I may submit that photo to David Fincher for consideration in his next opening credits.
Soldiering on, I browned the wine-bloated chicken corpse in butter and olive oil, and the promised alchemy soon took place; it really did result in something magical, considering the — ahem — humble beginnings. But when a recipe calls for an artery-clogging amount of butter and 1/4 lb. of bacon, magic is bound to happen.
All in all, it was good. Satisfying. Tasty, even. And I got a real feeling of accomplishment just from seeing it through to the end. But it isn’t something I’ll be making again soon — while good enough for a Sunday lunch, it just didn’t seem to be worth the effort.
Oh, if you ever decide to make this, take his advice and clean as you go along. It’s something I do anyway, but you’ll appreciate tackling the dishes before they grow into a mountain in the sink.