Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Coq Au Vin

Magnus has had a strong strong urge to make coq au vin for a while now. He found a place in town that sells good quality capons as well, so it was going to be a full on authentic coq au vin...I was willing to supply the wine (my Dad makes it and keeps me well stocked) and space as a good excuse to get together over the holidays and make yummy food.
I admit to knowing little about coq au vin...I thought it involved cocoa somehow and was completely uninterested until I heard it was mainly poultry slow cooked in wine and spices. THAT I can get into :)

So, yeah...Coq au vin day was the 27th. Magnus arrived, with capon and we began the elaborate's what we did:

First off, the ingredients:
~1 1/2 bottles of red wine (thanks Dad!)
15 baby carrots
1 white onion coarsely chopped
12 pearl onions
3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
~ 1/2 c walnuts, crushed up
4 cloves garlic, crushed
~1 T thyme (called for 6 sprigs fresh but we couldn't get any)
1 bay leaf
~1 T sage ( fresh stuff to be found)
1 25 Lb capon, cut up into 8 pieces.
5 T butter
12 ounces large mushrooms, quartered (mix of oyster, crimini and white)
4 bacon slices, chopped + 6 cubes of prosciutto fat
vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups Port (again, thanks Dad!)
2 T flour and some cornstarch

While marinading the bird in the wine, we cooked the pearl onions in pot of boiling salted water 3 minutes, then drained and peeled them. Then we melted 3 tablespoons butter and added the pearl onions, some garlic and mushrooms and sauteed until mushrooms were tender, about 10 minutes, and put them aside. In the same pan, we then sauteed the bacon and fat cubes and sauteed until brown and crisp and put them on paper towel to drain. We then sauteed the walnuts and celery for ~ 5 minutes in come of the bacon fat and set aside, saving a bit of the bacon fat. (mmm...bacon fat)

We transferred the bird with tongs onto a cookie sheet and brushed with the bacon fat and added salt and pepper and reserved the marinade. We then broiled the bird, flipping half way through, until it was all brown and crispy on the outside, instead of trying to brown it in a skillet on the stove...there was just too much bird! We then put the marinade into a dutch oven and then brought it to a boil, adding the bird to it, along with the white onion, carrots and and most of the walnuts and celery and garlic. We reduced the heat and simmered uncovered until chicken is very tender, about 1 hour 15 minutes (turning the pieces occasionally).

We removed the meat and saved the cooking liquid, setting the bird aside. We strained out the veggies in there and then returned the liquid to pot, added the port and brought it to a boil. We mixed melted butter and flour together and added it to the liquid to thicken it (and used a bit of cornstarch and water too to get it a bit thicker). We let it boil lightly over medium heat for ~ 15 minutes until the sauce thickened. Then we returned the capon to the pot and added the pearl onions and sauteed mushrooms, bacon and celery and walnuts. We let it all simmer until it was heated through and the flavour had a chance to blend together - about 15 minutes.

While this was going on, I had the bread robot making some cheddar beer bread. I also steamed up some asparagus, and made some nicely oven roasted baby potatoes with peppers, onions and some fresh herbs to go with it...and viola!

It was a lot of work...I personally would modify it and use chicken breasts and more herbs, but for a first jaunt into french obscure cuisine - I gotta say. This was top notch.
Yes...well done everyone. :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


The one and only Mizfit inspires me with her fitness thoughts and ideas, and especially the example she sets with her family - she's all about being real and caring about the things that really matter to me as well. She happens to be Jewish, and was talking about making challah bread with her daughter in a recent post...and it got me thinking that I hadn't had challah in years and years...mostly as it takes a lot of kneading to get it right. I read up a bit on the tradition of challah, and I really like the idea and the attitude that goes into making challah weekly for your family to enjoy together on shabbat. My friend Eleanor used to make it and it was yummy. I don't like kneading bread so I've never tried.
If you've never had challah, it's a slightly sweet, rich, eggy bread, often made with poppy seeds. Depending on the time of year it's formed into various shapes.

Now that I have a bread maker -Bwaha! No kneading for me :)
So I thought, hey, why not try it out?

I found a simple challah recipe that would work in a breadmaker and I tossed the following ingredients into the bread robot on the dough cycle and let it go for 1 and a half hours:

1 cup warm water
21⁄2 teaspoons yeast
2 eggs (whisked together)
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 1/4 cups bread flour

Once it was done the dough cycle (manually it would be kneading ~10 minutes, and first rise of about an hour) I divided the recipe in half (it's for 2 smaller loaves) and froze half for another time. The machine was struggling towards the end as it's a thick heavy dough. Glad it was him and not me!
I divided the dough into 3 pieces and rolled them out into log shapes and rolled them in poppy seeds. I wet the ends with water and then made a nice braided bread and let it rise for about 40 minutes. Then it was baked for 25 minutes at 350 degrees...and voila!

It was delicious. I will definitely make it again. J and I loved it just the way it was. It was delicious...we went through a whole loaf by the next afternoon...!

I put it on the baking stone to rise and bake, but I think next time I'll just put it on a cookie sheet, as the bottom could have used a bit more browning. Apparently you can add nuts or sun dried tomatoesto this recipe and it works great. I look forward to more bread experiments.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Chicken: Two Different Meals

Chicken stew for all! I was watching Chef at home and saw that he had served a chicken and mushroom stew. I missed what he did but I figured I am capable enough to figure out my own stew.
I browned six chicken thighs in one pan and caramelized onions in the other. I lay green onions, garlic, carrots and mushrooms in the bottom of a large pot along with the herbs parsley, savory rosemary and thyme. (sage went on vacation) Once browned the chicken was laid on top and I filled it with water to about an inch and half over the chicken.
Once it came to a boil I added in around 1/2 cup of corn meal (yup, polenta again) and some black pepper. I let that cook for a couple of hours on low heat, stirring occasionally. I also added in 2 ounces of bourbon. I am not sure how it affected the flavour of the stew in one's mouth, but it did loan an aromatic quality, and seeing as how it is made from corn it would match up nicely with the corn meal I would expect.
The fist nights serving was overly peppery, but it seemed to become more tame with each meal. The flavour improved and was the best on day four. I tore up some multi grain bread and served the stew over top. Mmmmmm.

Last Night I made a roast chicken. The Bulk Cheese Warehouse sells free range birds and they are delicious. I decided to make it a warm up to when I prepare Coq au Vin.

The stuffing: I mixed yellow and bue corn meals together and cooked them with some dried kale and mixed in margarine. In a pan I sauteed onions, rosemary, sage and thyme with some hot panchetta and mixedthat into the corn meal and kale. I had enough left over so I had that with carrots and the chicken heart and liver for dinner proper.

The bird: After stuffing the bird withthe corn meal, I poured around 600mL of red wine over top and place in the same herbs I used in the stuffing along with a bay leaf. On top of the that went button mushrooms and a number of pearl onions. I then melted some butter and drizzled it over the top of the chicken and sprinkled pepper over top of that.
I set the oven to broil to brown the skin. I have never actually seen wine burn, but I did last night. It had no affect on the contents - i.e. nothing was burned - and the fire went out when I quickly opened and then closed the oven door. I place a lid on and covered my beautifully browned bird.

The gravy: In a small pot I had water with some salt, pepper, carrots and diced onions and mushrooms. I simmered it for a while with the chicken liver and heart in the pot as well. Eventually I removed the carrots and seared the heart and liver for my dinner. (I prepered the bird for future meals) When the bird was done I cupped out the wine stock and placed it into the gravy stock. To thicken I used blue corn meal (which was more like a course flour) and two and half tblspns of cocoa powder. I cooked that for 20 minutes.

The results: Wow. Great bird, fantastic stuffing and an incredible gravy. The cocoa really makes it and suggest using it with any wine based stock.

- Magnus