It’s that time of year here in Texas when even the longhorns yearn to hop a plane for parts unknown just as long as the destination is cooler with less humidity. Alas, I’m all about the “stay-cation” this summer. Rather than sulk and sweat (or sweat and sulk, take your pick), I decided to hoof it to my neighborhood bookstore in search of diversion. To my delight, I found “The Little Paris Kitchen: 120 Simple but Classic French Recipes” by Rachel Khoo. This modern approach to Cordon Bleu cookery serves up new spins on much-loved classics like coq au vin on skewers. This recipe is fun to make, will give your taste buds a vacation from the hum-drum; and, hey, you get to fire up the grill. How can you go wrong with that?
Brochettes au coq au vin
Coq au vin on skewers
Serves 4 as a main course
Rooster stewed in red wine for several hours is traditional coq au vin. I thought I’d shake that on its head and make a barbecue version with a red wine dipping sauce.
For the marinade:
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp butter
4 small sprigs of thyme
3 bay leaves
2 cups red wine
1½ lb boned chicken legs, with skin on*
5 oz lardons or cubes of smoked bacon
2 large carrots, cut into large chunks
8 small new potatoes
8 small button onions, peeled and left whole
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp sugar
salt and pepper
8 small button mushrooms, brushed or peeled
1 tbsp olive oil
8 barbecue skewers—if they’re bamboo, soak them in water for at least an hour before using
TO MAKE THE MARINADE: Fry the garlic and onion in the butter until golden brown. Add the thyme and bay leaves and cook for another minute before adding the wine. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Leave to cool.
Cut the chicken into large chunks, place in a large plastic container with the lardons, and add the cold marinade. Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours (best overnight).
Lift the chicken and lardons out of the marinade, then strain through a sieve. Measure 1¼ cups marinade, pour it into a pan, and set aside. Put the carrots, potatoes, and onions into a large pan of cold salted water and bring to a boil. Parboil for 5 minutes, then drain the vegetables into a sieve and hold under cold running water for 2 minutes. Leave to cool.
On a high heat, reduce the marinade by half before adding the vinegar. Mix the cornstarch to a thin paste with some water, whisk into the sauce, and boil for 5 minutes or until the consistency of heavy cream. Add the sugar and season with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it down in direct contact with the sauce. Keep the sauce warm until needed.
Thread the chicken onto the skewers, alternating with the lardons, parboiled vegetables, and mushrooms. Brush with the olive oil before cooking on the barbecue (or indoors on a griddle pan) for around 5 minutes, turning regularly. To check the chicken is cooked, cut a piece open—the juices should run clear, not red or pink. Serve with the sauce (reheated in a pan or microwave if necessary).
* Chicken legs have more flavor and tend to be juicier than breast, or you could use boneless chicken thighs (skin on) instead. Breast meat will be fine too, as long as you are careful not to overcook it.
Preparation time: 1 hour
Resting time: 4 hours–overnight
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Recipe courtesy of “The Little Paris Kitchen: 120 Simple but Classic French Recipes” by Rachel Khoo, www.ChronicleBooks.com