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Classic Coq Au Vin

5 from 13 votes

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A classic recipe for coq au vin, a simple and homey French-style stew of braised fall-apart tender chicken in a rich, tangy red wine sauce. Serve this delectable chicken with noodles, polenta or mashed potatoes for the ultimate cozy dinner.

Close up photo of a braising pan full of cooked chicken pieces with mushrooms and baby onions in red wine sauce.

I have strong feelings about this super-tasty chicken recipe — and with good reason.

It’s hard to argue with melt-in-your mouth tender chicken, especially when it’s sauced-up with a velvety red wine sauce and flavorful pan juices. And those sweet caramelized onions and earthy mushrooms!

This is a dish that feels just like an autumn walk, when leaves are falling off the trees and the smell of woodsmoke is in the air. I love that mood!

The whole dish cooks on the stovetop. If you have an enameled Dutch oven or a cast iron “everyday pan” this is the ideal way to use it!

While I was testing and perfecting this recipe, I had Julia Child by my side the whole time, in the form of her cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Image showing a cookbook by Julia Child next to a cutting board with brown mushrooms, red pearl onions and a head of garlic.

Fun facts about Coq au Vin

Pronounced “coke-o-van” or “cocovan”, coq au vin literally means “chicken with wine” in French. To get technical, it’s a type of fricassee — a cooking preparation that’s part sauté and part braise.

According to Julia Child, in France a fricassee is made with either red or white wine, but red is more popular.

It’s a humble kind of dish for sure, something easy for a home cook to prepare in one pot, or as a meal you’d enjoy in a casual neighborhood bistro.

While coq au vin is not at all hard to make, it does involve a few steps and takes about an hour to cook. Save this recipe to make on a weekend or on a day when you have a bit more time than half an hour to make dinner at home.

Image showing ingredients for making coq au vin, with raw chicken pieces on a plate, mushrooms, a bottle of red wine, sliced pancetta, baby red onions, garlic, bay leaf and thyme sprigs.

Main ingredients in Coq au Vin

  • Chicken: A whole cut-up chicken is traditional in coq au vin. However, you can use all chicken thighs, legs or breasts if you prefer a particular part.
  • Pancetta or bacon: Either one is delicious, just be sure to use an unsmoked bacon so it doesn’t overwhelm the other ingredients.
  • Brown mushrooms: Cremini mushrooms add a rustic touch, but white button mushrooms are fine too.
  • Baby onions or shallots: It can be difficult to track down “baby” (pearl onions) in markets. Luckily, shallots do the job equally well.
  • Red wine: You want a nice full-bodied red wine that’s good enough to pour into a glass and drink. See my recommendations below.
  • Herbs: Fresh thyme and a dried bay leaf are all you need for cooking, plus a garnish of fresh parsley.
  • Tomato paste
  • Flour: I use all-purpose wheat flour to thicken the sauce, but oat flour or rice flour will do for a gluten-free option.
  • Butter: Use good real butter! The secret to the lush texture of the wine sauce is a paste of flour and softened butter (beurre manié).

Julia does not include carrots or celery. In fact, her recipe is really very basic, focusing the layers of flavor on chicken, mushrooms, sweet onions and the red wine sauce.

Cooking directions and steps:

  1. Chef Tip: To get the best color on the chicken skin (which will reward you later with more flavor), dry the chicken pieces with a paper towel or clean tea towel, just as if you’re patting a baby dry after a bath.
  2. Cook the pancetta/bacon until crisp, then add the chicken to the pan to brown.
  3. Pour the wine into the pan, which will loosen the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer, then add chicken stock, the tomato paste, herbs and chicken.
  4. Cover the pan and simmer gently until the meat is falling apart tender, which usually takes 40-45 minutes.
  5. While the chicken is cooking, cook the onions and mushrooms.
  6. Remove the chicken from the pan, then stir in the flour-butter paste. Cook a few minutes, until you see the sauce start to thicken.
  7. Add the chicken back to the pan along with the mushrooms and onions. Sprinkle with parsley and serve it up warm!

Best red wines for Coq Au Vin

The rule of thumb for cooking with wine — especially when it’s a major component of the recipe — is to use wine you already enjoy drinking.

For coq au vin, I recommend using a soft, hearty red wine made with grape varieties like syrah, pinot noir, zinfandel or sangiovese. I don’t think Cabernet Sauvignon is the best choice for this dish, because it often contains more tannins that don’t taste great in the sauce.


good value (under $15) red Wines for COQ AU VIN

  • California Pinot Noir, Syrah, Zinfandel, Merlot
  • French Cotes du Rhone, Burgundy (pinot noir), Syrah
  • Italian Chianti, Barbera D’Asti, Montepulciano
Photo of an enameled cast iron pan full of cooked chicken pieces with mushrooms and baby onions in red wine sauce.

What to serve with Coq au Vin

The tender chicken and rich sauce are PERFECT to serve with the best cheesy polenta, egg noodles or wide pasta like pappardelle, buttered baby potatoes or plain rice.

Add a tossed green salad and you’ll have an amazing restauran-quality dish at home!

Make ahead tips:

To save time making this recipe, here are some tips to shortcut the steps.

  • Cook and crisp the pancetta and keep refrigerated up 3 days ahead.
  • Sauté the onions and mushrooms and keep refrigerated up 3 days ahead.
  • Instead of cooking on the stovetop, braise the chicken in oven for 40-45 minutes at 325 degrees.
  • Make the entire dish up to 3 days ahead. Reheat gently for about 10 minutes on medium-low heat (adding a bit of chicken stock if the sauce has thickened up).
  • To freeze coq au vin, let the chicken and sauce cool completely. Portion into freezer-safe containers and freeze 1-2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Braised chicken recipes like coq au vin are ideal as leftovers. This chicken reheats well and tastes even better the following day!

Serve it with the same wine you used to cook the chicken and enjoy.

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Classic Coq Au Vin Recipe

Karen Tedesco
A classic recipe for French-style coq au vin, featuring tender braised chicken in a buttery red wine sauce with mushrooms, shallots and pancetta. Serve this delectable dish with noodles, polenta or mashed potatoes for the ultimate cozy dinner!
Print Pin
5 from 13 votes
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 15 mins
Total Time 1 hr 40 mins
Course Chicken
Cuisine French
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds bone-in chicken parts (6-8 pieces), breasts, legs and thighs or a combination
  • 2-½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 ounces pancetta or unsmoked bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups dry, full-bodied red wine, such as Cotes du Rhone, Malbec, Syrah or Pinot Noir
  • 2 tablespoons pressed or grated garlic
  • 1 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 12 ounces cremini mushrooms, cut into quarters
  • 1 cup baby onions or 3 shallots, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Instructions 

Serves 4-6 people

  • Dry the chicken with paper towels. Sprinkle evenly with 2 teaspoons of the salt.
  • Heat a large saute pan or braising pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta or bacon and cook until it's crisp and the fat is rendered (5-7 minutes). Remove from the pan and set aside. Pour out all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pan.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the pan. Add the chicken pieces, skin side down. Cook until the skin is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Turn the pieces over and cook 5 more minutes. Remove the chicken to a platter.
  • Pour the wine into the pan and bring it to a simmer. Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, thyme, bay leaf and chicken stock. Return the chicken pieces and the pancetta to the pan.
  • Turn the heat down to low and cover the pan. Cook 40-45 minutes, until the chicken is very tender when poked with a fork — peek into the pan every now and then to make sure the sauce is simmering gently and not boiling, adjusting the heat as necessary.
  • While the chicken cooks, prepare the onions and mushrooms: Heat a 10-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining tablespoon olive oil and the onions. Cook until the onions are slightly softened and beginning to brown. Stir in the mushrooms and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook 10 minutes, until the mushrooms have released their liquid and are softened. Set aside.
  • Using tongs, transfer the chicken from the pan to a platter. Remove and discard the bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Bring the sauce to a boil and cook 10 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced by half.
  • Blend the flour and butter with a fork to form a paste. Stir into the pan sauce and simmer until it thickens, 1-2 minutes.
  • Return the chicken to the pan along with mushroom mixture. Cook another minute or two, turning the pieces to coat with the sauce. Sprinkle with parsley and fresh thyme leaves and serve.

Notes

Shortcut tips and storage directions:
  • Cook and crisp the pancetta and keep refrigerated up 3 days ahead.
  • Sauté the onions and mushrooms and keep refrigerated up 3 days ahead.
  • Instead of cooking on the stovetop, braise the chicken in oven for 40-45 minutes at 325 degrees.
  • Make the entire dish up to 3 days ahead. Reheat gently for about 10 minutes on medium-low heat (adding a bit of chicken stock if the sauce has thickened up).
  • To freeze coq au vin, let the chicken and sauce cool completely. Portion into freezer-safe containers and freeze 1-2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Recipe based on Coq Au Vin from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 656kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 43g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Sodium: 1082mg | Potassium: 888mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 344IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 58mg | Iron: 3mg
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Hey, I’m Karen

Creator of Familystyle Food

I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about making cooking fun and doable, with easy to follow tested recipes and incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.

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One Comment

  1. Liza Finkel says:

    5 stars
    OK — we have to add this to the list of make soon recipes! It looks wonderful!
    XO