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Santa Barbara, CA, United States
I enjoy creating original wine-pairing recipes that are healthful and delicious. I work for Touring & Tasting a Santa Barbara based wine club and national magazine as Food Editor. However, I am not paid for this blog and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own. I received my Personal Chef Skills Competency Award from the SBCC's School Of Culinary Arts. In 2012, I started Inside Wine - Santa Barbara with pal Lila Brown which features wine tastings with winery owners and winemakers. I also serve on the Board of the Santa Barbara Culinary Arts group, which had Julia Child as one of the founding members and funds scholarships for SBCC culinary students in her name.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Magic Of Mirepoix -- Coq Au Vin Cookoff

Paso Robles Syrah
Last week, Touring and Tasting's magazine editor, Wendy van Diver, asked if I'd prepare Coq Au Vin to compare recipes for the upcoming issue. What fun! I love to make food and share it with the office--especially if there are several bottles of Syrah from different wineries to taste along with it! I already have a tasty, EASY recipe for coq au vin on my blog here. But in week #7 of Culinary class, we made the dish with mirepoix, in classic French style, to add flavor and body to the sauce without needing flour for thickening. I adapted the recipe we used in class. The following is a more time consuming recipe than the one on my 2/18/10 post, but the rich, flourless sauce is worth the extra effort.
Coq au vin
olive or vegetable oil
6 chicken legs, cut into thigh and drumstick
salt and pepper
4 strips bacon, cut into 1" pieces
*1 large onion, fine dice
*2 carrrots, fine dice
*3 stalks celery, fine dice
*these three make the mirepoix which should be in a ratio of 2:1:1 -- 50% onion, 25% carrot, 25% celery
1/2 head of garlic, peeled and sliced
2 cups chicken broth
1 4 oz. can of tomato paste
1 bottle red wine--red Rhone, Beaujolais or Syrah
2 tsp. thyme, in two parts
1 bay leaf
12 pearl onions, blanched
2 packs button or Crimini mushrooms
Parley Potatoes:
24 baby Yukon gold potatoes
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. minced parsley
salt and pepper
You should have a sautoir or saute pan for this dish: a large frying pan with straight sides and tight fitting lid. Along with a sharp, top quality chef's knife, a sautoir is a must-have. It goes right from the stove top into the oven, plus the wide base is excellent for reducing sauces.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle salt and pepper over all sides of the chicken. Heat 1/2" of oil in your sautoir over medium heat (do not let it smoke) and place half the chicken pieces in it. Brown the chicken on both sides--the oil should be sizzling and bubbling lightly--turn down the heat if the oil starts to smoke or bubble furiously. Set the first batch aside and brown the second batch. Pour off most of the oil and put the bacon in the pan and saute it until browned. Lower the heat and add the mirepoix and let it sweat (cook without browning) until the onion is translucent. Add the sliced garlic and cook just until it releases a garlic smell. Then, add the broth and scrape up and mix in the fond (the browned bits on the bottom of the pan) using a wooden spoon. Add the tomato paste and 1 tsp. thyme, stir well. Nestle the chicken into the mirepoix. Pour in the red wine until the level is 3/4 up the sides of the chicken. Cover tightly and put in the oven for 1 1/2  hours, turning the chicken over halfway through the cooking (total cooking time will be about 2 1/2 hours).
Start preparing the onions and mushrooms: to blanch the onions, first cut the root end off each one but do not peel off the papery husk. Boil a pot of water large enough to fit the onions and put them into the boiling water for 3 minutes. Remove them into a large bowl filled with ice and water. When they have cooled, the outer peel will come off easily. In a separate saucepan, melt the butter and cook the drained onions for about 5  minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are lightly browned. Add the mushrooms and sprinkle with the white wine, thyme and salt and pepper to taste.  Cook and stir until mushrooms are done. Take out the coq au vin and remove the chicken to a plate. Strain the juice and return to the sauce pan. Stir in the vegetables and add the chicken which will continue to cook while you prepare the potatoes.
Parsley potatoes: Put the potatoes into a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil. Cook until done--test by piercing a potato with a fork to see if the inside is soft. Drain and put into a bowl with the butter. Toss to coat evenly and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Top with minced parsley.
Serve the coq au vin with the potatoes and a Syrah or Rhone blend. We had the 2007 Venteaux Vineyards estate Syrah, the 2008 Sculpterra estate Syrah, the 2007 Vina Robles estate Syrée (a blend of Syrah and Petit Sirah) and the 2007 Calcareous Vineyard estate Syrah--all delicious. All four are from Paso Robles and gave us a good taste of the range of flavor profiles in the varietal.

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