Coq au Vin (or how to make an idiot proof roux)



Coq au Vin is a dinner party favourite and the very first dish I ever cooked my boyfriend, so it’s rather special to me. I tend to cook it when I have a large group of people coming for dinner (around 6 or 8, which isn’t really that many) as its cheap, easy to make and bloody tasty too! 

Your main expense is the red wine and whilst I don’t suggest buying a carton of Tesco Red Table Wine, you can pick up a decent bottle of French red wine in supermarkets for under a fiver. My tip is to look at the ones that are reduced. Something that is £5 because its half price is a steal and will most likely taste a lot nicer than the normally priced £5 bottles.

When it comes to Coq au Vin, you shouldn’t try to change tradition. Although saying that, one of my favourite TV cooks, Rachel Koo, has an amazing, unconventional Coq au Vin skewers recipe. Sticking with tradition however you will need:

To serve four people:

8 chicken thighs

6 shallots, roughly chopped

1 red onion, roughly chopped

1 carrot, chopped in to small chunks

1 pack of lardons or chopped thin bacon

30g of butter

4 cloves of garlic

5 sprigs of thyme

Bottle of red wine

1 pack of button mushrooms

2 tsp of corn flour

50g of butter

To serve:

baby new potatoes




Heat some butter in a pan and brown the chicken thighs, make sure to keep the fat on them for maximum flavour. Add the lardons and fry until cooked. When the thighs have browned, add them and the lardons to a casserole dish with the garlic, shallots, carrot, onion and thyme. Pour in the bottle of wine and stick in the oven at medium heat for an hour (check on it after 40 minutes though).

Sometimes I forget to put the mushrooms in at the start and I’ve added them about half an hour in. I tend to just do this now as I don’t like my mushrooms over cooked but they still soak up the flavour of the casserole.

15 minutes before the dish is cooked, start boiling your potatoes. I add the brocolli five minutes before serving to ensure it still has a bite. 

Now here’s the part I always found tricky, making the sauce. Ideally you want quite a thick sauce and I’ve always had difficulty making a roux. That was until I became a coeliac and could only use corn flour. For some reason, since I started using corn flour instead of wheat flour, my sauces had been smooth and delicious, no little lumps of flour and burnt butter. 

Once the dish is cooked, take all the ingredients out of the casserole dish and pour the wine reduction through a sieve  in to a bowl or glass. Stick the ingredients of the dish in to the oven for a while and let the wine reduction cool for ten minutes. This is vital, as if it is too hot the roux will not thicken.  

Melt the 30g of butter slowly in a large frying pan (I find the increased surface area helps me control the whisking process). To this add the corn flour bit by bit, whisking constantly. By adding the corn flour gradually you can avoid lumps. Once the butter and flour have combined in to a paste, slowly begin to add the wine reduction, whisking constantly to make sure the sauce thickens. You may need to turn the heat up ever so slightly at this point. Some recipes call for you to bring the sauce to the boil to thicken it but if like me you are terrible at making sauces, follow my idiot proof method. 

Take off the heat once thickened, prepare the plates with the potatoes, brocolli and chicken casserole ingredients and pour over the sauce. And serve.

This isn’t a particularly summery casserole but to be honest we rarely get a summer in the UK anyway. It pains me to say, but I have every faith in our weather that you’ll be craving something warm and hearty like this Coq au Vin soon. 

What are your idiot proof cooking techniques or simple cheats that work everytime?

Dom x




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