Coq Au Vin

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of thick-sliced bacon or lardon, diced medium (4 ounces -- 1-by-1/4-inch strips of blanched slab bacon or salt pork)

2 1/2 to 3 pounds of frying chicken parts

2 tbs. of butter

1 tbs. of olive oil (or good cooking oil)

Salt and freshly-ground pepper

1 to 2 large cloves of garlic, pureed

1 imported bay leaf

1/4 tsp. (or so) thyme

1 large ripe red unpeeled tomato, chopped (or 1/3 cup of canned Italian plum tomatoes)

3 cups of young red wine (Harvest Moon '13 50-50 Red Blend)

1 cup of chicken stock (or more)

Beurre Maine, for the sauce (1 1/2 tbs. each flour softened butter blended into a paste)

Fresh parsley sprigs (or chopped parsley)

1/3 cup of good Brandy (optional)

12 to 16 small brown-braised white onions

3 cups of fresh mushrooms, trimmed, quartered and sauteed

-- Cooking Instructions --

Saute the bacon or salt pork and remove to a side-dish, leaving the fat in the pan. Brown the chicken in the pork fat, adding a little olive oil, if needed. Flame the chicken with the Brandy, if you wish -- it does give its own special flavor, besides being a fun technique to do. Add the browned onions, garlic, bay leaf, thyme and tomato. Pour in the wine and enough stock to barely cover the ingredients. Bring to a simmer, cover and continue simmering slowly for 20 minutes, or until chicken is tender when pressed.

Remove the chicken to a side-dish, and spoon surface fat off the cooking juices. Pour the juices (and onions) into a saucepan and taste very carefully for strength and seasoning. Boil down rapidly if it needs strength; adding more of the seasonings if you deem it necessary.

Off the heat, whisk the beurre maine to make a lightly-thickened sauce. Bring briefly to a simmer -- the sauce should be just thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. Wash out the casserole; return the chicken to it, basting it with the sauce and onions. Before serving, reheat, basting the chicken with the sauce. Simmer for a few minutes to rewarm nicely but not overcook.

Decorate with parsley and serve. Either arrange the chicken on a hot platter and decorate with small steamed potatoes and parsley, or, mound atop rice or noodles. You could also serve a fresh green vegetable, or follow the chicken with a tossed salad and cheese. A light, young red wine is recommended here, preferably the one used in the dish itself.