Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Coq au vin,the return of the rooster


A rather neglected figure,the Portuguese galinha (old rooster) is nowadays seen only as an image on sports teams´shirts or as an iconic symbol of Portugal found in almost every souvenir shop.It used to be different story,though.This cockerel,the male mate to the more tender hen,used to play his role from dawn to dusk.His morning call would wake the slumbering countryside at dawn and the hens would lay their eggs for their owners.
Worn down after a life well lived,the old rooster would eventually end up in the casserole,slowly tenderized in a wine sauce.Today the proud rooster is more often replaced by a chicken,for faster preparation of coq au vin.Let the cock fight begin.
Two ingredients face off in the pot.A tired old rooster and robust red wine,rich in alcohol and tannins.With such a match going on,the other ingredients become spectators.Carrots cut into rounds add vitamins while bouquet garni,garlic and onions contribute essential aromas,and the peppercorns give a bit of spice to the flavour.A bit of brandy thrown in and burnt oiff for good measure is always a good idea I think,The French did it with Calvados so I decided to douse my old bird with Portuguese Maciera.Exactly which liquor you choose and which country you are in at the time depends much on how you feel at the moment.
Pearl onions,mushrooms and a slab of bacon chopped up and browned in butter finish it off.Small new potatoes with delicate skin and a good flavor are cooked whole and added to the dish at the end. Overcome by garnish the poor old rooster can not escape from this final battle,It is too bad he is hiding at the bottom of the dish.
 

Coq au vin
Serves 6

2.8kg (6 1/4 lb)Galinha (rooster)
Freshly ground pepper
200ml / 2/3 cup olive oil
4 carrots
2 onions
6 to 8 sprigs parsley plus extra for garnish
2 sprigs Thyme
3 large bay leaves
2 tablespoons flour
100ml / 7 tbsp maciera/Brandy
12 black peppercorns
11/2 bottles robust red wine
6 cloves garlic
500g/8oz small potatoes
200g white pearl onions
300g fresh mushrooms
50g butter
200g slab of bacon in small pieces

Get the butcher to joint the bird for you.When you get home wash all the pieces and season them well with salt and pepper.Heat the olive oil in a large cast iron pot.Put the chicken pieces in the pot and brown them rapidly by turning them on all sides.You may have to do this in batches.Cut the carrots into rounds,chop the onions and garlic and make a bouquet garni from the parsley thyme and bay leaves.Add the vegetables and herbs to the pot and stir for 5 minutes over medium high heat.sprinkle with flour and mix well.Add the brandy and peppercorns followed by the red wine.Cover and cook for two and half hours over a low heat then remove the chicken from the sauce and keep it warm.Boil the potatoes in salted water for 20 minutes while the chicken is cooking.Set aside.Cook the pearl onions in salted water for 10 minutes,then drain them.In a frying pan, fry the bacon and mushrooms in butter until golden brown. Keep warm.
Reduce the sauce by  a quarter over medium high heat.Add the mushrooms bacon,pearl onions and chicken.Cover the pieces of chicken with the sauce then add the potatoes sprinkled with parsley.
Bom apetite!!!

Pleas sir, can I have some more?

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