Whoever started the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series was seriously misguided. Simply put, there’s nothing like a simmering pot of braising chicken and herbs to warm the soul and cure what ails you, whether it be physical or metaphysical. Chicken soup pales in comparison.
This red wine braised chicken with rosemary and mushrooms, however, totally qualifies.
I’ve always wanted to make a classic pot of coq au vin, but I never seem to have, oh, 30 pearl onions on hand, and my usually thyme-enthusiastic palette never seems to have any sprigs in the fridge when the coq au vin-desperation hits. Instead, I whipped up a soothing pot of chicken pieces, fork-tender from the rich red-wine-and-whiskey braising liquid, earthy mushrooms arranging a play-date with salty, smoky bacon, all balanced by woodsy rosemary, elbowing you and whispering, “Hey, it’s really winter, you know? But.. you know.. in a good way.” I love it.
You can serve the remnant braising juices over noodles, polenta, or, like I did, gnocchi. I doubt I’m the first to ever serve a pot of coq au vin-inspired braised chicken over gnocchi, but I sure as hell felt like a genius as I smothered the ridged little potato pillows in the heady sauce. I may or may not have emitted an evil laugh, throwing my head back like a maniac over the stove, as O peered in from the dining room with 9-1-1 dialed on his phone, thumb hovering over the “Send” button.
Make this! I promise insanity is not a side effect.
….or is it?
Red Wine-Braised Chicken with Rosemary and Mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 5 slices bacon chopped into about 1/2" pieces
- 2-4 pieces chicken
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 onion sliced
- 1/2 teaspoons salt
- freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1/2 shallot sliced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 cup whiskey Brandy, or Cognac
- 375 ml red wine half a bottle, you know what to do with the other half.. something cheap will work fine here, just not TOO cheap
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1 cup rich chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons butter room temperature, divided
- 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms ideally shiitake, oyster, or cremini (add more if you're a mushroom-lover!)
- pasta grains, gnocchi, or soft polenta to serve
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove the bacon to a plate with a slotted spoon.
Meanwhile, lay the chicken out on paper towels and pat dry. Liberally sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. When the bacon is removed, brown the chicken pieces in batches in a single layer for about 5 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Remove the chicken to the plate with the bacon.
Add the onions, 1/2 teaspoons salt, and freshly ground pepper, to taste, to the pan and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the shallot and continue to cook about 5 - 7 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned and shallots are soft. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the whiskey (being careful to tilt pan away from your face) and put the bacon, chicken, and any juices that collected on the plate into the pot. Add the wine, chicken stock, and rosemary and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is JUST not pink. Remove from the oven and place on top of the stove.
Mash 1 tablespoon of butter and the flour together and stir into the stew. If necessary, microwave for a few seconds at a time to mash well. In a medium sauté pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and cook the mushrooms over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until browned. Add to the stew. Bring the stew to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes. Season to taste. Serve hot.