For the coq au vin:
Start by heating some butter and oil in a nice big casserole dish and then put in some pieces of chicken and thickly chopped smoked lardons of bacon and the fresh shallots or chopped onions and let that all brown for a few minutes. You can flambé the whole thing with a little Armagnac if you want. Put in a couple of dashes, heat it slightly and set it alight so all the alcohol is burned off and you are just left with the great taste. Next sprinkle a bit of flour over the whole thing. As the wine goes in it will thicken the sauce.
Time for the wine to go in. It’s a good idea to use a nice full flavoured, deep bodied wine. I use a Chateau Neuf du Pape in my coq au vin. Give it a good stir, scraping round so all the bits stuck to the bottom get incorporated in the sauce. Put the lid on, bring it to the boil and let it simmer really slowly for about three hours. Keep an eye on it and if it starts to dry out, add some more water this time, because you need to keep some of the wine to drink with the meal.
For the cheesy croutons :
Just to finish it, I put some lovely cheesy croutons on top. Cut your bread and heat the slices in the oven with a little bit of olive oil on them until they are toasted. Do that for just a couple of minutes to toast, then sprinkle cheese over them and put them back into the oven until the cheese is golden. Place them on the top of the casserole and serve. The perfect marriage of food and wine.
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