Coq au Vin

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Coq au vin is a hearty French stew of chicken braised in red wine with mushrooms and crisp pancetta.

Rich and brimming with flavor, coq au vin is a classic French stew of chicken braised in red wine with mushrooms and crispy pancetta. It’s the perfect cooking project to tackle on a chilly weekend when you’ve got a few hours to burn; naturally, anything that tastes this wonderful takes some time. As with most stews, it is even better the next day, and it freezes well, too.

I love coq au vin with buttered egg noodles, mashed potatoes, or a good crusty bread — basically anything to soak up the full-flavored sauce. If you like my Beef Bourguignon, you’ll love this recipe, too.

What You’ll Need To Make Coq au Vin

ingredients for Coq au Vin

Before we get to the step-by-step, a few notes about the ingredients:

  • Traditional recipes for coq au vin call for a whole cut-up chicken (a coq is an old rooster), but I prefer to use only bone-in chicken thighs only. The thighs remain tender and succulent when braised for a long time, whereas white meat tends to dry out.
  • Pancetta is simply Italian bacon. Instead of being smoked like American bacon, it is cured with salt and spices and then dried. You can find it in the deli at most supermarkets or precut and packaged in the refrigerated gourmet foods aisle, which is a great time saver.
  • For the wine, a Burgundy or Pinot Noir is traditional but any light or medium bodied red wine, such as Merlot or Zinfandel, will also work. You don’t need to use an expensive bottle; just make sure it’s good enough to drink (no supermarket cooking wine!).
  • Cognac, a type of French brandy, is delicious in cocktails like this pomegranate Sangria, but it also adds complex flavor to savory dishes like chicken Pot Pie, gravies, and stews.
  • You may notice that my recipe does not call for the traditional garnish of pearl onions. They can be difficult to find, and I actually prefer the stew without them. If you’d like to add them, be sure to brown them in butter and cook them thoroughly before adding them to the finished stew.

How To Make Coq au Vin

To begin, heat the oil in a large (5-qt) Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the pancetta (or bacon) and cook until the fat has rendered and the pancetta is crispy, 5 to 8 minutes.
cooking pancettaUsing a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a paper-towel-lined plate, leaving the fat in the pan. Season the chicken all over with 2 teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Increase the heat to medium-high and brown half of the chicken in a single layer, skin side down, until golden and crispy, about 5 minutes (brown on the skin side only). Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a plate; set aside.

browning chickenPour off all but about 2 tablespoons of the fat, then return the pot to the stove and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until softened and just starting to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute more.

cooking onions and garlic

Pour in the Cognac and cook, stirring to scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan, until the Cognac has evaporated.

deglazing the pan with Cognac

Add the wine, chicken broth, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, sugar, thyme, bay leaf, and ½ teaspoon salt and bring to a boil.

bringing liquid to a boilReduce the heat to medium and gently boil, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

reduced liquid

Add the chicken and any accumulated juices from the plate back to the pot, along with the carrots. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook over low heat for 30 minutes, or until the chicken and carrots are cooked through.

adding chicken and carrots to pot

While the chicken cooks, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are golden brown, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

sautéed mushrooms

Also while the chicken cooks: In a small bowl, combine the softened butter and flour.

butter and flour in bowl

Mash with a spoon to make a smooth paste. In French, this is called a beurre manié (or kneaded butter). Set aside.

beurre manié

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked chicken to a plate. The wine gives it a purplish hue.

cooked chicken on plate

Using a fork and knife, pull the skin off of the chicken (it should slide right off) and discard. The skin has served its purpose by lending flavor to the sauce and protecting the meat from drying out. You don’t have to do remove it, but it’s soggy at this point and I think the dish is more appetizing without it.

chicken with skin removedIncrease the heat in the Dutch oven/pot to medium and stir in three-quarters of the flour and butter paste.

adding beurre manié

Gently boil until the sauce is thickened, 5 to 7 minutes; add the remaining paste if you’d like the sauce a little thicker. Fish out and discard the bay leaf.

simmering sauce to thicken

Add the chicken and any accumulated juices back to the pot and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes. Right before serving, stir in the browned mushrooms and pancetta. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

adding chicken. mushrooms, and pancetta back to pot

Serve immediately or let cool, chill in the refrigerator, and reheat when ready to serve.

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Coq au Vin

Coq au vin is a hearty French stew of chicken braised in red wine with mushrooms and crisp pancetta.

Servings: 6
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour 40 Minutes
Total Time: 2 Hours 10 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 4 ounces diced pancetta (or bacon)
  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 4 pounds), trimmed of excess skin (see note)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup Cognac
  • 2-1/2 cups red wine, preferably Burgundy or Pinot Noir
  • 2-1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks on the bias
  • 8 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Instructions

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large (5-qt) Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until the fat has rendered and the pancetta is crispy, 5 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a paper-towel-lined plate, leaving the fat in the pan.
  2. Season the chicken all over with 2 teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Increase the heat to medium-high and brown half of the chicken in a single layer, skin side down, until golden and crispy, about 5 minutes (brown on the skin side only). Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a plate; set aside. Repeat with the remaining chicken. Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of the fat.
  3. Return the pot to the stove and reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the onions to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened and just starting to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add the Cognac and cook, stirring to scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan, until the Cognac has evaporated. Add the wine, chicken broth, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, sugar, thyme, bay leaf, and ½ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and gently boil, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
  4. Add the chicken and any accumulated juices from the plate back to the pot, along with the carrots. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook over low heat for 30 minutes, or until the chicken and carrots are cooked through.
  5. While the chicken cooks, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are golden brown, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
  6. Also while the chicken cooks: In a small bowl, mash the softened butter and flour to make a smooth paste. Set aside.
  7. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked chicken to a plate.
  8. Increase the heat in the Dutch oven/pot to medium and stir in three-quarters of the flour and butter paste. Gently boil until the sauce is thickened, 5 to 7 minutes; add the remaining paste if you'd like the sauce a little thicker. Fish out and discard the bay leaf.
  9. Using a fork and knife, pull the skin off of the chicken and discard.
  10. Add the chicken and any accumulated juices back to the pot and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes. Right before serving, stir in the browned mushrooms and pancetta. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary, then serve.
  11. Make-Ahead Instructions: Let cool to room temperature and then store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat over medium-low heat on the stovetop before serving. (For best results, store the sautéed mushrooms and crispy pancetta in separate containers in the refrigerator and add before serving.)
  12. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: This can be frozen for up to 3 months. Before serving, defrost the stew in the refrigerator for 24 hours and then reheat on the stovetop over medium-low heat until hot.
  13. Note: Sometimes chicken thighs have excess skin and/or fat. Before cooking, using kitchen shears, trim any skin that extends farther than the edges of the chicken thigh, and snip off any excess fat.

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Reviews & Comments

  • Hi Jen,

    Would white wine work? If yes how much? I am really enjoying your recipes. I have made tons of them and have not been disappointed. Keep those recipes coming😁

    • — Janelle on January 18, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Janelle, The taste will be different but I do think white wine would work well (same amount). Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on January 18, 2020
      • Reply
  • This 86 year old foodie has never eaten Coq Au Vin and it was on my bucket list. so…with bad weather coming, I did my shopping yesterday and spent hours in the kitchen today. Jenn, it is incredible, one of the best things I’ve ever made. Used a good pinot noir and Courvoisier. Made exactly as written with the addition of some sauteed pearl onions Removing the chicken skin is ingenious. My only problem was lifting the full Le Cruset pot from the stove…too heavy for me. Good thing I live in an apartment building with an around the clock doorman. (Gave him a taste of the sauce and he swooned.) Serving it tomorrow with the roasted beet salad. Reheating, which is easier, stove top or 275 degree oven? I can hardly wait to eat it

    • — Carol Winkelman on January 18, 2020
    • Reply
    • So glad it turned out well, Carol! I think it’s easiest to reheat on the stovetop. 😊

      • — Jenn on January 18, 2020
      • Reply
  • Loved it

    • — Joanne m. on January 18, 2020
    • Reply
  • I just made this exactly as written and it was so delicious. I feel like a French cooking genius! Thanks for sharing.

    • — Kim on January 17, 2020
    • Reply
  • Will using boneless chicken thighs diminish the flavor?

    • — Julie Miller on January 17, 2020
    • Reply
    • The bones do add a lot so, yes, it will have an impact on the finished dish. Also, you won’t need to cook the chicken as long so it won’t get quite as infused with the other flavors. Last, it’s pretty hard to find boneless chicken thighs that have skin on them.

      • — Jenn on January 17, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi Jen – I’m looking forward to making this recipe this weekend! Quick question: you state in the recipe that you should brown half the chicken, but you don’t then reference browning the other half. Is there a reason not to brown all of the pieces of chicken? Thanks for the help!

    • — Meg on January 16, 2020
    • Reply
    • That was a mistake, Meg – – thank you for catching that and letting me know. It’s fixed! 🙂

      • — Jenn on January 17, 2020
      • Reply
  • I thought I ruined my dinner when I put the wrong amount of vinegar in but it was still fantastic!!!! I made the roasted beet salad & chocolate mousse for dessert. Everyone loved it!!! I’ll definitely make this again!

    • — Gina on January 16, 2020
    • Reply
  • If you’re going to remove the skin before serving, why bother browning it? Why not remove it before browning, and brown the skinless thighs? It seems cooking the chicken with the skin on would just add to the fat in the dish for no apparent benefit. That being said (asked), the recipe looks delicious! I can’t rate the recipe because I haven’t made it yet. Waiting for some definitive answer re to skin or not to skin the thighs. I enjoy so many of your recipes and the web site. Keep ’em coming!

    • — Barbara Calhoun on January 16, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Barbara, Great question – I like to brown the skin-on chicken to render the fat, and then use the fat to cook the onions and garlic. This adds lots of flavor. Leaving the skin on during the cooking process also adds flavor to the sauce. Once the chicken braises for a long time, the skin gets very soggy (there’s really no way to keep it crisp) so I think the dish is more appetizing without it. Since the fat from the skin is rendered in the beginning and any excess fat is discarded before cooking the onions and garlic, the sauce really isn’t greasy. Hope that clarifies!

      • — Jenn on January 16, 2020
      • Reply
      • Yup! Thanks. Can’t wait to try it.

        • — barbara calhoun on January 17, 2020
        • Reply
      • Could you omit the mushrooms? Making for a family member that does not like them. Would substitute peas or another vegetable.

        • — Kaylie on January 17, 2020
        • Reply
        • Sure, Kaylie – peas would work. Enjoy!

          • — Jenn on January 17, 2020
          • Reply
  • Do you have the nutrition info on this recipe?

    • — Nancy L Robertson on January 16, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Nancy, I didn’t include nutritional info for this recipe because there were a number of variables (i.e., using some but not all of the pancetta fat, removing the chicken skin after cooking) that made me concerned that the information I provided wouldn’t be accurate.

      • — Jenn on January 17, 2020
      • Reply
  • Can you use breasts instead of thighs?

    • — Jane on January 16, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Jane, I have made it both ways and much prefer to use dark meat. However, white meat can be used – you just have to be really careful not to overcook it. Cut the chicken breasts in half so they aren’t enormous and reduce the cook time to about 20 minutes (for the first phase).

      • — Jenn on January 17, 2020
      • Reply
  • Good, no pearl onions! I can’t handle squishing one of those in my mouth. Just doesn’t work for me. Now regular onions? Ah, they’re fine!

    • — Keith R. Starkey on January 16, 2020
    • Reply
  • Could you substitute the wine with all chicken stock or half chicken half beef?

    • — Stephanie on January 16, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Stephanie, while you could substitute the wine with chicken or beef broth, the dish will taste very different. (Coq au Vin literally means chicken in wine.) The dish will still be good but will have a significantly different flavor and color. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it this way!

      • — Jenn on January 17, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn: Will brandy work?

    • — Pam on January 16, 2020
    • Reply
    • Yep (brandy and Cognac are the same thing – Cognac just gets its name as it’s made in the Cognac region of France).

      • — Jenn on January 16, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, Im excited To try this recipe, I did inquire a few months ago if you had this recipe, Im so glad you followed up and shared it. Thanks

    • — Tami on January 16, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on January 16, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn: will brandy work as I have no Cognac?

    • — Pamela on January 16, 2020
    • Reply
    • Yep (brandy and Cognac are the same thing – Cognac just gets its name as it’s made in the Cognac region of France). Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on January 16, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi, Jen – I just wanted to say “thank you!” for specifying the thyme in tablespoons of leaves instead of by sprigs. I never know how much thyme is in a “typical” sprig, so stripping the leaves and measuring with a spoon is far more exact, and reassuring. Thank you.

    • — Laura on January 16, 2020
    • Reply
  • I don’t have brandy. Is there a substitute or could it be omitted?

    • — Julie on January 16, 2020
    • Reply
    • It’s fine to omit it, Julie. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on January 16, 2020
      • Reply
  • Will the recipe still be good if I don’t use the Cognac? Hate to buy a bottle just for one recipe.
    Thanks.
    Kathy

    • — Kathy Nelson on January 16, 2020
    • Reply
    • Yep, perfectly fine to leave it out. 🙂

      • — Jenn on January 16, 2020
      • Reply
    • One thing I do is go to a local store like BevMo and buy the small bottles of liquor if I need only a small amount for cooking. They’re the size of what you get in the hotel. Wine also comes in 1/2 bottle sizes, I do cook enough that I usually have a full bottle of at least one red and one white at home along with sake and Chinese rice wine for Asian recipes.

      • — LC on January 17, 2020
      • Reply
  • Ah, one of my wife’s favorite winter-time meals. She refers to it affectionately as “coco chicken”, and we always freeze a few servings for later use.

    Your recipe is a bit different from others that I’ve followed in the past, with the additions of cognac, balsamic vinegar, and sugar. I’ll look forward to giving it a try.

    • — Mark on January 16, 2020
    • Reply
  • This looks delicious…..I am not a fan of dark meat. Do you think it would be ok to use chicken breasts or would it ruin the recipe?

    • — maura on January 16, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Maura, I have made it both ways and much prefer to use dark meat. However, white meat can be used – you just have to be really careful not to overcook it. Cut the chicken breasts in half so they aren’t enormous and reduce the cook time to about 20 minutes (for the first phase).

      • — Jenn on January 16, 2020
      • Reply
  • Jenn this looks so good and I can’t wait to make it tonight. We don’t eat pork, so would you please suggest an alternative to the pancetta? Would turkey bacon or chicken sausage chorizo work?
    P.S I have said this many times, but you are amazing and your recipes are 100% delicious and easy to follow. I can’t begin to tell you how many of your recipes I have shared and passed on to friends and family . Your creativity and talent is an inspiration !

    • — Sameera on January 16, 2020
    • Reply
    • Thank you, Sameera — so happy you enjoy the recipes! Turkey bacon should work nicely. You could also just omit the pancetta; it will still be delicious.

      • — Jenn on January 16, 2020
      • Reply
  • Any changes if I want to use a whole chicken, they are on sale this week.

    • — Laurel on January 16, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Laurel, If you want to include breasts, cut them in half so they aren’t huge and remove them from the stew after about 20 minutes so they don’t overcook.

      • — Jenn on January 16, 2020
      • Reply
  • Jenn-This looks good but my husband does not eat any red meat so I would like to try it without the Pancetta. Do you think that would be a problem or should I substitute anything for it? Thanks! Kathy

    • — Kathy Russo on January 16, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Kathy, It will still be delicious without the pancetta – just leave it out and use the first tablespoon of oil to brown the chicken. Hope you enjoy it!

      • — Jenn on January 16, 2020
      • Reply
  • Could cornstarch be used instead of flour to thicken the sauce for gluten free eaters? If so, how much?

    • — Jane on January 16, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sure, Jane – I’d start with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water. You may need up to 2 tablespoons but I’d add it little by little. Hope that helps and please LMK how it turns out. 🙂

      • — Jenn on January 16, 2020
      • Reply
      • If you don’t like the different texture that cornstarch gives to sauces, my favourite gluten-free thickener is sweet rice flour. It’s called “sweet” not because it has sugar in it or is particularly sweet itself, but because this type of rice is traditionally used in the Orient to make sweets (desserts), apparently. It can be substituted for wheat flour on a one-to-one basis (one tablespoon of all purpose flour = 1 tablespoon of sweet rice flour). I actually prefer it as a thickener and use it all the time even when I don’t need a gluten-free gravy or sauce. It works exactly the same as all-purpose flour but seems less prone to lumping. You can find it in health food stores or bulk food stores if your regular grocery store doesn’t carry it. (It is also good as a replacement for flour in coating foods for frying etc.)

        • — Kristy on January 16, 2020
        • Reply
      • I’m making your coq au vain & I just put in 2 T of balsamic instead of 2tsp. If you see this what should I do

        • — Gina Brewer on January 16, 2020
        • Reply
        • Hi Gina, I would just proceed with the recipe – if it tastes too acidic at the end, you can add more chicken broth to fix it. (Keep in mind that you may need more of the butter/flour paste if you add a lot of liquid to the sauce.)

          • — Jenn on January 16, 2020
          • Reply

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