Every once in a while I give myself culinary missions and yesterday I succeeded in a particularly difficult one - making Coq au Vin the proper way, out of rooster. As the recipe I used noted, "Coq au Vin isn't chicken cooked in cheap wine, it's rooster cooked in wine good enough to drink." The good enough to drink part was easy, it was getting the rooster that was the problem. As the recipe conceded, getting a rooster to cook is almost impossible in the U.S. Lucky for me I know Kyle, who knew somebody who knew a poultry farmer. So for my birthday Kyle got me a rooster, plucked and everything. Not a conventional gift, but a thoughtful one.
So off I went to make my coq au vin. I used this recipe from Saveur magazine, because the recipe is designed to be made with rooster where most coq au vin recipes assume you are cooking chicken. Pictured right is the result, which we enjoyed with a bottle of Domaine de la Vougeraie Vougeot Monopole, a red Burgundy. When you make Coq au Vin, red Burgundy is your best option for pairing (all red Burgundies are pinot noirs). The wine was fantastic and reminded me why Burgundy is considered one of the best wine producing regions in the world. And to toot my own horn a bit, Rebecca said my Coq au Vin was better than the one she had in France.
If you wish to try the recipe for yourself but don't know a poultry farmer, here are a few tips. One is cut down the cooking time from 1.5 hours to 45 minutes. Rooster is tough and requires more cooking to soften it, but cooking chicken for that long will overcook it. Second, use dark meat only, because white meat will overcook. Third, you can skip the step about pouring cognac over it and lighting it with a match because that step is there to burn off extra hairs on the rooster. Fourth, don't be tempted to use anything to cook the chicken in but Pinot Noir. I used the Cooper Hill Pinot Noir from Oregon because it's not super expensive but still true to the varietal. Finally, don't be tempted to keep the vegetables that you cook with the meat. The vegetables are there to flavor the sauce. This is French cooking, and it's all about the sauce, so discard the vegetables. But if you wish for there to be more vegetables in the final product you can add more to the mushrooms. I added pearl onions.