Coq au vin is a rustic French classic that is hard to beat as a crowd pleaser; a perfect marriage of ingredients that seem destined to accompany one another. Who could fail to adore this? Although these days it’s usually made with chicken (as I did), a traditional coq au vin is made with a mature cockerel. The meat from such a bird will be dark and rich in flavour compared to a young hen, but correspondingly tough as a result, meaning that it needs to be braised gently for a long time to make it tender. So I was looking forward to some tasty chicken slowly cooked in red wine; and to complete this classic dish, simply add small button mushrooms, baby pearl onions and some chunky dice of pancetta.

Coq au Vin Recipe


  • 20 small buttom mushrooms
  • 12 baby pearl onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • 4 free range chicken legs, separated into drumsticks and thighs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 850 ml red wine
  • 1 stick celery
  • 2 carrots
  • ½ small leek
  • some beurre manié
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 100 g pancetta
  • 1 medium onion
  • vegetable oil, for frying


  1. Separate the thighs from the drumsticks and place in a suitably sized tub or ziplock bag. Crush the garlic, then chop the carrot, celery, onion, and leek into rough 1cm dice and add everything to the chicken along with the wine, thyme and bay leaf. Leave in the fridge to marinate for 1 day. Put the chicken breasts aside for another recipe. Make a simple stock with carcass; crush slightly and snugly fit it into a medium-small pot. Cover with cold water and slowly bring to the boil, skimming any scum that rises. Simmer gently for 3 hours, then strain and discard the bones. Reduce the stock by half, and place in the fridge until needed.

  2. Heat the oven to 180C. Transfer the chicken and it's marinade to a roasting tray, then bring to the boil on the stove top and simmer for 3 minutes to remove the alcohol. Place in the oven for about 45minutes, or until the meat is tender.

  3. Meanwhile, heat a frying pan and cook the pancetta, onions and mushrooms over a high flame until nice and golden. Add the chicken stock to de-glaze, then simmer until the mushrooms and onions are just tender. Set aside.

  4. When the chicken is cooked, remove from the tray and pat the skin dry with kitchen towel. Strain the braising liquid into a saucepan, and add the chicken stock poured off the from the mushrooms and shallots pan. Bring to the boil and reduce by about two thirds, until it is dark and rich. Season to taste, and thicken with a little beurre manié. While the sauce is reducing, crisp the chicken skin; in a frying pan heat some oil over a medium-low flame and brown the chicken, being careful not to burn it. The skin should be dark and caramelised. Serve with the mushrooms, shallots, pancetta and sauce poured over. Excellent with mashed potato or boiled new potatoes