Love in a transit (coq au vin)
- 2-3 tbsp sunflower or olive oil
- 1 x 1.8kg/4lb chicken, jointed into eight portions
- 125g/4½oz unsmoked rindless streaky bacon, cut into 2cm/¾in slices
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 50ml/2fl oz brandy
- 1 x 75cl bottle red wine
- 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 2 bay leaves
- 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 16 small shallots
- 200g/7oz baby button mushrooms
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large non-stick frying pan set over a medium-high heat. Season the chicken on all sides with salt and pepper and add to the pan. Cook until deep golden brown, turning once. You might need to do this in 2 or 3 batches, depending on the size of your pan. Transfer to a large, flameproof casserole. Return the pan to the heat. Add the bacon and fry for 2-3 minutes, or until beginning to crisp. Scatter on top of the chicken.
Add the onion to the pan and cook over a low heat for 4-5 minutes until golden-brown, adding the garlic for the last minute or so and stirring often. Tip the onion and garlic into the casserole with the chicken pieces.
Deglaze the pan with the brandy, stirring well to remove as much of the tasty sediment from the bottom of the pan as possible. Add half the red wine and bubble for a few seconds more. Pour the remaining wine and the hot brandy and wine mixture over the chicken. Add the tomatoes, bay leaves and thyme. Bring to a gentle simmer and cover loosely with a lid. Cook for 30 minutes over a low heat.
Meanwhile, put the shallots in a large, heatproof bowl and cover with just-boiled water. Leave to stand for 5 minutes then drain away the water. When the shallots are cool enough to handle, peel off the skins leaving a tiny part of the root intact to help hold them together.
Heat the remaining oil in a clean frying pan and fry the shallots over a medium heat until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Drop the mushrooms into the same pan and cook with the shallots for a couple of minutes until golden-brown. Stir the shallots and mushrooms into the casserole after the chicken has been cooking for 30 minutes. Cover loosely once more and simmer gently for a further 30-45 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and the onions are softened.
Using a large slotted spoon, transfer the chicken, bacon, vegetables and mushrooms to a large bowl. Return the sauce to the heat and bring to the boil. Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the sauce is thickened, stirring regularly. When the sauce has reduced enough to coat the back of a spoon, return the chicken to the pan and warm through.
This is best served with creamy mashed potatoes and green beans, garnished with freshly chopped parsley.