This easy, stovetop version of Coq Au Vin results in tender, fall-off-the-bone chicken in a luscious red wine sauce. Cooked with bacon, rainbow carrots, pearl onions, mushrooms and fresh herbs, this hearty meal is best served with mashed potatoes and crusty bread.
Would you believe me if I told you that, up until a few months ago, I had never tried coq au vin before? Now, I know half of you are reading this with mouths agape in incredulous shock. The other half of you are sitting there staring at your screens thinking coq au…WHAT?! Don’t worry, this is a judgment-free zone.
While I had heard of coq au vin before, I had always been intimidated to cook it. My trepidation probably stems from the name being French. I just automatically assumed that it would be difficult, time-consuming and involve expensive, hard-to-find ingredients, so I just never made the effort. Well, as it turns out, I was wrong. On all fronts. Not only is coq au vin easy to make, but it’s made in a single pan and most of the ingredients are affordable pantry staples.
What is Coq Au Vin?
For those of you who have never heard of coq au vin, it’s a traditional French stew made with chicken braised in red wine with assorted vegetables and fresh herbs. It doesn’t sound like anything special, but for those of you who have eaten (or made) coq au vin before, you know that it’s much more than just a chicken stew.
I don’t know how to describe it, but something magical happens while coq au vin cooks. The fat from the chicken renders into the red wine along with all the other flavors and turns the sauce into this insanely rich, velvety concoction. It’s amazing. I just love how something so delicious is created from a few simple, everyday ingredients.
My version of coq au vin simplifies the classic recipe even further by eliminating the need to finish cooking the dish in the oven. Time is really the only factor working against the traditional recipe. Typically, once all the ingredients are combined on the stovetop, the dish is covered and transferred to a low oven for 2-3 hours. If you’re a purist, you may scoff at cutting corners in traditional French cooking, but I wanted to turn coq au vin into an accessible weeknight meal that anyone could enjoy.
For this reason, I also eliminated cognac which is typical of traditional coq au vin recipes. Again, I wanted to make this version of coq au vin as easy and accessible as possible. For me, cognac isn’t something I keep on hand so it was a natural omission. However, if you do have cognac in your pantry, you can totally add a few tablespoons to this recipe. Add it to the pan when you mix in the tomato paste and let it cook down for a 1-2 minutes before you add the wine. It will add a nice added layer of flavor to the recipe.
But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We need to start at the beginning, and it all begins with bacon. Yes, I forgot to mention earlier that coq au vin usually starts (and ends) with bacon. In a large cast-iron skillet with a cover or dutch oven, cook four slices of bacon until crispy. Remove from pan, roughly chop and set aside.
While the bacon cooks, pat dry your chicken legs and thighs and season with salt, pepper and dried rosemary. I also love to use Jacobsen Rosemary Salt for this recipe when I have it on hand. Seriously, if you’ve never tried their salts before they are game-changers.
Next, the chicken gets seared over medium-high heat in the bacon fat. It’s a beautiful thing. Let it cook on all sides until the skin is nice and crispy. Then, the chicken is removed and mushrooms, peeled pearl onions and chopped rainbow carrots get added to the pan. Cook the vegetables for 5 to 8 minutes until they begin to char and soften. I like to keep all my veggies whole or in large chunks to ensure they don’t get too mushy when they’re later braised in the red wine with the chicken.
Then, stir in garlic, tomato paste, fresh thyme and rosemary before adding the chicken back to the pan. Finally, a healthy pour of red wine goes over everything before the pan is covered. From here you just turn down your stovetop to it’s lowest setting and let everything hang out for an hour. Serious magic will happen in this hour—trust me.
When the hour is up, uncover the pan and marvel and all the deliciousness within. Before serving, check that your chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165°F and that your vegetables are fork-tender. To preserve the rustic look of this dish, I like to serve it right from the pan. When ready to serve, sprinkle everything with fresh parsley and thyme along with the reserved chopped bacon.
Pro tip: serve this coq au vin with mashed potatoes and crusty bread. It gives you not one, but two vessels for soaking up even more of this delicious sauce.
Have you tried (or made) coq au vin before? Let me know in the comments below. And, if you try out this recipe, be sure to give it a rating and tag me on social media. It’s @frydaeblog or #frydaeblog absolutely everywhere. As always, thanks so much for stopping by and I hope you enjoy. Happy Frydae!
Easy Stovetop Coq Au Vin
- 4 slices thick-cut bacon
- 2 pounds chicken thighs and legs, skin-on
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, chopped
- 1.5 cups pearl onions, peeled, skins removed
- 2 cups cremini mushrooms
- 1.5 cups rainbow carrots, whole or chopped into large chunks
- 1 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
- 3 ounces tomato paste, half of a can
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups dry red wine
- fresh parsley, garnish
- In a large cast iron skillet, with a cover, or dutch oven, cook bacon over medium-low heat until crispy. Remove from pan, roughly chop and set aside. Reserve bacon fat.Next, pat dry chicken legs and thighs and season with salt, pepper and rosemary. Turn-up the heat to medium-high and sear the chicken in the reserved bacon drippings on all sides. Cook until skin is golden and crispy—about 2-3 minutes per side.Remove chicken and add prepared vegetables to pan. Saute vegetables in bacon and chicken drippings until they begin to char and soften—about 5-8 minutes.Add garlic and tomato paste to the pan and stir to combine. Then, replace chicken to the pan along with fresh thyme and rosemary.Pour red wine over chicken and vegetables, reduce heat to your burner’s lowest setting and cover with a lid. Cook for one hour.After one hour, remove the lid and check the internal temperature of chicken. It should register at 165°F and vegetables should be fork tender.When ready to serve, sprinkle with reserved chopped bacon, parsley and additional fresh thyme. Serve with mashed potatoes and crusty bread. Enjoy!