When we think of French cuisine, we typically conjure up images of exquisite dishes prepared by the most talented culinary artists. Everyone loves the opportunity to dine in an exclusive French restaurant. Culinary arts classes take French cooking seriously. It is the 101 course of gourmet cooking! French cuisine evolved into what is now called Haute Cuisine. Literally translated, the term means high food or food associated with exclusive gourmet restaurants. French cooking means soft baguettes and breads to accompany meals, creamy bisques, and specialty dishes like pommes frite and mousse au chocolat. Fine cheeses and wines accompany these meals.
History of French Cuisine
Truth be known, according to food history, French food is actually the product of the early influence of Italian settlers that crossed the Alps to settle in France. These settlers used recipes passed down to them from the Romans, some of the dishes being….well, a bit crude. Meat stews and fricassees were often made of old roosters or cocks with tough but flavorful meat. The texture of this meat stood up to all the frying and sauteing associated with fricasseeing. These early meat stews also included “other parts” of the fowl, namely the catacombe, feet, kidneys….well, just about everything but feathers, brains, and eyeballs. A little blood was thrown in as a thickening agent. All this doesn’t sound very appetizing, right? Apparently, Julia Child didn’t think so either while she was learning to cook in Paris. On one of her episodes of the 1960s TV show, The French Chef, Madame Childs introduced a lighter, less “barbaric” recipe for Coq au Vin.
Quick Coq Au Vin Recipe
The traditional ingredients for Coq Au Vin include wine (usually Burgundy), and lardons. As the name implies, lardons are fat, in this case, fatback or thick bacon. Cut-up chicken is cooked in a stew along with mushrooms, onions, carrots, and spices. Julia Child’s popular Coq Au Vin recipe calls for 1/2 cup lardons or thick slab bacon. Madame Child’s recipe eliminated the wilder side of the Old World version of the dish while preserving the traditional flavor. Tomato paste replaces the blood as a thickening agent- more appetizing for sure.
Ingredients for Quick Coq Au Vin
- 1 and 1/2 cups flour
- 2 tsp. dried thyme
- 3. tsp. dried parsley
- 4. 2 strips bacon
- 5. 2 TBS olive oil
- 1 to 1/2 chicken breasts, cut up
- 7. 2 cups red wine
- 8. 4 ozs. tomato paste
- 9. 1 jar (6 ozs) button mushroom.
- salt & pepper
- 1 small can mushroom stems and pieces
- 12. Jar of pearl onions
- 1 can chicken broth
Directions for Easy Coq Au Vin
Wash and cut up the chicken breasts. Add the dried herbs to the flour. Fry bacon in a skillet. Remove and add the olive oil. Coat the chicken and fry in the bacon/olive oil until browned. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place the chicken in a heavy Dutch oven. Add chicken broth.Mix the tomato paste in with the wine. Add to skillet. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook 40 minutes.