Lately I’ve been trying to cut back a bit on my weeknight alcohol consumption (mostly for the sake of calories), which means occasionally I end up with an opened bottle of red wine or two, especially after having friends over. So as to not let good wine go to waste, I’ve been using the excess in an adapted version of Alton Brown’s recipe for Coq au Vin—literally “rooster with wine” in French. Generally I’ve broken the recipe up over two or three (or four or five) days, depending on our dinnertime schedule. On the surface, it sounds like a significant time investment, but it’s really all about the convenience of doing a little bit each day to bring the dish to completion. Often on the first day, I’ll cook two dinners in parallel, starting with something easy, like a quiche, and then once it’s in the oven, I do all the initial prep for the coq au vin.
Sprinkle 4 chicken thighs and legs on all sides with salt and pepper. Place the chicken pieces, one at a time, into a large resealable plastic bag along with 1/2 cup of flour. Shake to coat and set aside.
Cut a half pound slab of bacon into 1/4″ lardon strips. Cook in a 12-inch skillet until brown and crispy. Remove to an air-tight refrigerator container.
In the same pan, add 15-20 small shallots and cook in the bacon fat until browned. Remove to the container with the bacon.
In the same pan, brown the chicken pieces in the bacon fat until golden brown, working in batches. Transfer the chicken into an 8-quart pot.
In the same pan, saute 15-20 small button or cremini mushrooms until they give up their liquid. Remove to the container with the bacon and shallots and put it away in the refrigerator.
Pour off any excess bacon fat and deglaze the pan with a healthy pour of red wine. Add about 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and stir until dissolved. Pour over the chicken.
Add 2 cups of chicken stock (or water), a quartered onion, 2 carrots chopped into inch-long segments, 3 crushed garlic cloves, 6 sprigs of fresh thyme and enough red wine to cover the chicken, usually about two bottles worth. Cover and refrigerate to marinate the chicken overnight.
Put the 8-quart pot on the stove, covered, and simmer for 2-3 hours. Afterwards it’s usually so hot that we just leave the covered pot on the stove to cool overnight, and then put it back in the fridge in the morning. Or if you’ve got the time, you can immediately continue with the Day 3 steps.
Day 3 (or 4 or 5)
Skim any congealed fat off the top. Remove the chicken to a quarter sheet, and put in a 250°F oven to reheat and crisp slightly. Using a slotted spoon, remove the onions, garlic, and thyme from the wine sauce, all of which can be composted. Also remove the carrots, which, if they are not totally mushy, can be added to the container with the bacon, shallots, and mushrooms. Reduce the sauce over medium heat by 1/3-1/2.
Once the sauce has thickened (or once you’re suitably ravenous), add the bacon, shallots, mushrooms, and carrots, and cook until heated through. Finally add the chicken back to the sauce and serve, alongside a grain or starch of your choice, such as rice, pasta, potatoes, or couscous. And enjoy!