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Coq au Vin with Spaetzle

Cook Time:
1 hr 30 mins
Prep Time:
45 mins

Chef notes

This is a classic French braise that I learned from my mentor, Daniel Boulud, and one that we always had on the menu at Café Boulud in Manhattan, where I was the chef for seven wonderful years before moving back to the Twin Cities to open Spoon and Stable. My home-kitchen-friendly version of the dish is a great way to learn a few important tenets of braising: the importance of getting a good sear on the chicken, reducing two (!) bottles of red wine to intensify the flavor of the liquid, and turning the meat over a few times while it cooks to ensure even doneness. My favorite accompaniment for rich, earthy coq au vin is crispy, buttery spaetzle, which is surprisingly easy to make and doesn't require any special equipment (though if you have one of those spaetzle-makers, feel free to use it).

Technique tip: You might notice that this braise is cooked uncovered. Unless I'm cooking large cuts of meat, I actually prefer braising with the pan uncovered, as it lets moisture evaporate and intensifies the braising liquid.


Chicken Stock
  • 1 whole chicken (3½ to 4 pounds)
  • 4 quarts water (or chicken stock for a richer stock)
  • 1 leek, white and light-green parts only, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 fennel bulb and fronds, roughly chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, roughly chopped
  • 2 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 sprigs parsley
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • fine sea salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • olive oil, as needed
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • teaspoons minced chives
Coq au Vin
  • 2 (750-milliliter) bottles full-bodied dry red wine
  • 1 whole chicken (about 3½ pounds), separated into 2 breasts, 2 thighs and 2 drumsticks
  • 2 ribs celery, cut into 2-inch batons
  • 8 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 pound small button mushrooms, cleaned and halved
  • 1/2 pound pearl onions, peeled
  • 1/4 pound slab bacon, cut into 1/4-inch batons
  • 1 herb sachet (4 thyme sprigs, 1 fresh bay leaf, 1 teaspoon coriander seeds and 1 teaspoon cracked white peppercorns tied up in cheesecloth with butcher's twine)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock (recipe above)
  • 1/4 bunch parsley, leaves picked
  • spaetzle (recipe above)


For the chicken stock:


In a stockpot, combine all the ingredients. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Uncover the pot, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 1½ hours.


Remove from the heat and remove the chicken from the pot. Set aside. Strain the liquid into another pot and discard the solids.


Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred the meat from the bones using your hands and reserve for another use. Some sections, like the breast, benefit from dicing with a knife to make equal 1-inch pieces. Discard the skin and bones. The stock can be refrigerated for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 6 months.

For the spaetzle:


In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, yogurt and 1 teaspoon salt until well-combined. Using a rubber spatula, add half of the flour and stir until hydrated. Add the rest of the flour and stir until the remaining flour is hydrated, forming a thick batter. Let the batter rest for 20 minutes.


Meanwhile, find a pot that a large-holed colander can sit on top of. In this pot, bring 4 quarts water to a simmer and season with 2 tablespoons salt. Set the colander over the pot and use a rubber spatula to push one-third of the spaetzle batter across the bottom of the colander. Cook the spaetzle until they begin to float, then remove them with a strainer and transfer to a sheet pan lined with paper towels. Repeat with the rest of the batter. Let the spaetzle cool to room temperature, then drizzle lightly with olive oil, toss gently and set aside.


When ready to serve, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 tablespoon of butter and place half of the spaetzle in the pan. Reduce the heat to medium. Cover the pan with a lid and let the spaetzle cook, undisturbed, until golden brown and crispy on the bottom, 3 to 4 minutes.


Remove the lid and add 1 tablespoon of the butter and a pinch of salt. Stir the spaetzle until the butter has melted and the spaetzle have puffed up slightly. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the chives.

For the coq au vin:


In a medium saucepan, bring the wine to a boil and reduce to 2 cups, about 10 minutes. Set aside and let cool to room temperature (you can do this ahead of time and refrigerate the wine until ready to use). Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl and add the celery, garlic, mushrooms, onions, bacon and herb sachet. Pour the reduced wine over, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.


Preheat the oven to 325 F.


Remove the chicken from the refrigerator. Reserving the red wine reduction, use a fine-mesh sieve to strain the ingredients out of the wine. Scatter the ingredients on a sheet pan lined with paper towels and pat dry.


Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper. Place a Dutch oven over medium heat and add the bacon. Cook, stirring, until the bacon is crisp, about 4 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon. Add the olive oil to the rendered bacon fat. Working in batches, sear the chicken pieces on all sides until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer the browned chicken to a wire rack set inside a sheet pan.


When all of the chicken has been seared, add the celery, garlic, mushrooms and onions to the pot and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned all over, about 10 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the reserved red wine reduction, bacon, chicken, herb sachet and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer, then cover with a round of parchment paper and transfer to the oven.


Cook, turning the chicken pieces over and basting them with sauce three or four times, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 165 F, 1 to 1½ hours.


Remove the pot from the oven and season the braising liquid to taste with salt and pepper. If the liquid seems too thin, remove the chicken and vegetables and bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the liquid until it's thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Return the ingredients to the pot. Garnish the coq au vin with the parsley and serve with the spaetzle.