The classic French coq au vin is traditionally made with a rooster, the coq in the recipe name, because cooks wouldn’t waste old roosters. But the birds needed a long braise in wine to tenderize the meat. That’s no longer true of modern chickens, which cook more quickly. Here, the dish is made even faster with chicken thighs. Crisp bacon first, brown the chicken in the bacon fat, then saute cremini mushrooms with pearl onions (the frozen variety works well here), make a sauce with red wine, and let the thighs, bacon, and herbs simmer briefly. Serve with egg noodles or mashed potatoes, or a baguette.
4 slices thickly cut bacon, cut into ¼-inch pieces
8 bone-in chicken thighs (about 2½ pounds total)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 pound cremini or white button mushrooms, halved or quartered if large
1 cup frozen pearl onions, thawed and drained
1 clove garlic
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups medium-bodied red wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup water
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1. In a large flameproof casserole over medium-high heat, render the bacon, stirring occasionally, until crisp. Remove bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon; set aside. With a large metal spoon, remove all but 1 tablespoon fat from the pan.
2. Meanwhile, sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the pan in one layer (cook it in batches, if necessary). Cook for 4 minutes, or until browned. Turn the chicken and cook the other sides for 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
3. Add the mushrooms and onions to pan, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes, or until the mushrooms release their liquid. Cook 2 minutes more, or until some of the liquid evaporates.
4. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more. Add the wine, stock, and water. Bring to a boil, scraping up any sticky bits on the bottom of the pan. Let the mixture bubble steadily, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
5. Return the chicken to the pan with any juices that accumulated in the bowl. Add the bacon, thyme, and 3 tablespoons of the parsley. Let the mixture return to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the pan, and simmer for 25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
6. Taste the sauce for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Sprinkle with parsley.