RIZ ET DE COQ AU VIN ROUGE (rice and chicken in red wine)
This is the essence of country food. Our forebears made the most of what was on hand, and a tough old rooster or hen often made the next meal. That “most” is revealed in this classic dish of poultry forged in pork fat, then tempered with time in wine to ethereal culinary distinction. While younger birds are fine for fast frying, coq au vin requires the texture and taste of a bird that literally flies the coop everyday in order to live. After that, its transcendence is best accomplished with a 200 degree oven, a firm bottle of red wine (a white can be an interesting diversion), a casket shaped like a Dutch oven--cushioned with pearl onions and mushrooms--and a parting bouquet garni on top. Our preparation adds our nutty flavored brown rice, which, like the old bird, holds up to longer cooking temperatures. It soaks up and thickens the wine and broth, sharing responsibilities with the beurre manie. Lengthy slow cooking in wine breaks down the old bird’s heavy muscles and deep fat into the most intensely flavored and succulent chicken you may enjoy--your patience will be will be rewarded. If you struggle finding the right bird, you may find one out in the countryside, your butcher, maybe a baking hen at your market, or certainly the Mississippi Market Bulletin.
The poulet’s preparation…
5 pound chicken, cock or hen, cut up in frying pieces. (Use young fryer if you must-shorten cook time)
(note: need heavy, large, and medium height Dutch oven or braising pan with tight fitting lid)