Lovin’ Marines and Coq au Vin
I just learned that the Marines are in town, apparently conducting their annual spring artillery training. Which, incidentally, would explain why the ground is tremoring in this fault-free zone, my house is shaking out of sheer fright, and outside it sounds like “thunder” when there is no storm.
Gotta love living near a military installation.
Lately, with all the noisy aircraft flyovers, it feels like I’m living next to a major international airport without the convenience of… you know… living next to a major international airport.
But I have to admit – the planes are pretty sweet. Sometimes they make for some fairly amazing backyard barbecue shows.
Unfortunately, I have yet to see something like this raining down over my backyard (they usually manage to hit the drop zones):
I have no idea from where this photo originated. It’s very likely that it belongs to a local photographer, so if it’s yours and you want credit (understandably) or want me to remove it, please let me know.
Anyway. This post isn’t going where I’d planned.
It’s just that those explosions are so distracting! It’s like the handicapper ear buds George had to wear in the short story Harrison Bergeron, by Kurt Vonnegut. They periodically make loud noises so George, who was smarter than your average bear, couldn’t concentrate, thereby making his thought process more on par with his simple-minded wife, Hazel. And every time a loud noise went off in George’s ear, Hazel would see him wince and say, Boy, that one was a doozy, wasn’t it?
Aaaaaand I’ve distracted myself again.
What I really wanted to show you was what I made for dinner the other night. Because I know you care. And because I gave you a little teaser at the end of yesterday’s post:
Now, I’m not gonna lie. There’s a bit of work involved in this one. But it’s not hard. It’s just work. Work of the chopping, browning, and simmering variety.
Work I don’t tend to mind.
And I have to say, this is the recipe that you tuck away for special occasions or when you really want to impress someone. Especially if that someone has a Y chromosome and a bunch of testosterone floating around where logic and reason would normally reside. (Ha! I’m kidding. You know I love you, boys. Almost as much as I love my girls. It’s the chromosome thing.)
The recipe is Coq au Vin – with an Italian twist.
Don’t let the fancy name scare you – it’s just chicken (well, literally rooster, but we’re gonna go ahead with chicken) and wine. The Italian twist comes from the sausage. Because you know I can’t just use chicken and leave well enough alone. I like my greasy meats.
The genius original recipe can be found right here.
You could serve this over rice, pasta, or even mashed potatoes, but I chose a bit of a unique route. Since the recipe isn’t exactly healthy, I decided to make faux mashed potatoes out of cauliflower, which I’ve done before with much success. (Thanks Tracy for the fantastic recipe!) Of course it’s not quite the same as real mashed potatoes, but with a hefty helping of Coq au Vin alla Italiana over the top, who the hell cares?
Here’s what you need to make it the way I did (I cut the amount of chicken in half, but kept everything else pretty much the same):
- 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (this might even taste better with bone-in meat, but I didn’t want to deal with it)
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
- 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 (4 oz.) links sweet Italian sausage, sliced (I actually had to use mild Italian sausage because my po-dunk grocery store didn’t have the sweet stuff. I think the sweet stuff would’ve been better.)
- 1 cup onion, chopped
- 3 carrots, sliced
- 1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced (I used more like 3/4 lb. because I bought them in bulk. I looove me some mushrooms. And I knew I’d have plenty of sauce since I used less chicken.)
- 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 (14.5 oz.) can whole, peeled tomatoes
- salt and pepper to taste
Whew. That’s a LOT of stuff, I know. But it also makes a LOT of food.
1. Heat the 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. (I use my enameled cast iron dutch oven for this, because it allows me to make everything in one, single pot. But if you don’t have one of these, that’s okay! Just use a regular frying pan for this first part. You’ll just have more pots to clean – sucka!)
While your pan is heating up, mix the flour and poultry seasoning together in a shallow dish. (I like to use a pie pan. Don’t ask me why.)
2. Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture, then throw about half of your minced garlic into your preheated skillet and add the chicken to brown for a couple of minutes on each side. Keep in mind that you’re not trying to cook the chicken, here – there will be plenty of time for that soon enough.
3. Meanwhile, wash and chop your onion, mushrooms, and carrots. (And you don’t have to peel your carrots, but I do. I think they’re…I don’t know…nicer that way. You know, as opposed to mean, dirty carrots.)
4. When the chicken is browned, throw in your sliced sausage links and stir ’em around. Let that cook for another few minutes.
5. Add the carrots, onion, mushrooms, rosemary, and the rest of the garlic to the mix and stir everything together.
6. Finally, add the wine and can of tomatoes (including liquids).
Notice the smell. Oh, the smell. It’s times like these I wish they had scratch ‘n sniff computer screens.
Stick a lid on your pot, turn the heat down to low, and let everything simmer and come together in a veritable orgy of deliciousness for about 25 minutes. Then season with some salt and pepper (don’t forget to taste it!) and let it simmer for another 10 minutes or so. The chicken will be nice and soft, the veggies will be cooked, and everything will smell oh, so delicious.
*Note: My sauce was still a little thin for my taste, so I added a tablespoon of corn starch to 1/4 cup of cold water and stirred it into the pot to thicken things up a bit.
7. Serve alone in a bowl, or over cauliflower “potatoes,” regular mashed potatoes, brown rice… whatever floats your boat.
And if you have any of that red wine left, be sure to drink that, too. Because, if anything goes with coq au vin, it’s… vin.
“Gee – I could tell that one was a doozy,” said Hazel.
“You can say that again,” said George.
“Gee -” said Hazel, “I could tell that one was a doozy.”
–from Harrison Bergeron