This year for Christmas, I find myself in a new kitchen with the freedom to cook whatever I want. After about a week of freezer meals, I settled in to make something I’d wanted to make for a long time, Coq Au Vin – a popular in French favorite. I love this dish because it’s absolutely, crazy fantastic AND :))) I get to light it on fire!! How fun is that?!

With that said, this is a meal that requires some work and time, but the payoff is amazing. If you’ve never cooked with spirits before, this is a good dish to start. You’ll learn a new skill, and it will transfer to cooking other foods.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour

Ingredients:
3 slices – Bacon, uncooked and sliced into 1inch pieces
1 cup – fall-purpose flour
2 lb. – chicken breast (breast and thigh with skin on), sliced into ¾ cubes
3 tbs. – olive oil
1/4 cup – brandy (alcohol)
2 cup – red wine
2 oz. – tomato paste
3 – cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 lb. – white mushrooms, preferably Button, quartered
1 – sweet onion, small and diced
2 tbs. – parsley
1 – onion powder
1/2 cup – chicken broth
Salt and pepper

Start with a large, heavy-bottomed pot or a Dutch oven, if you have one, and bring it to a medium heat. Cook the bacon slices until crisp, 4-5 minutes. Remove the bacon and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Remove the pot from the burner so it doesn’t burn and smoke during this next part.

Put the flour into a large sealable bag along with the onion powder, salt and pepper. Shake the bag to mix the contents. Next, place some of the cubed chicken in the bag, close and shake again.

Add the olive oil to the pot with the bacon fat and return it to the burner on medium-high heat. Lightly shake the excess flour from the chicken, we want some of that on there to thicken the sauce, and add to the oil. The chicken should sizzle when it hits the oil, if not; wait until the oil heats up. Add the chicken in batches; don’t over crowd the cooking area. Cook to golden, about 5 minutes, turned half way through.

Return all of the chicken to the pot after it’s been lightly fried.

Pour the brandy over the chicken and reduce heat to medium-low. Once the brandy has warmed, about 30 second, remove the pot from the heat. Using a cooking match – yes, you’re going to light it on fire. It’s super fun, but make sure your hair is pulled back or you have a hat on, just in case – ignite the brandy. Keep the lid handy in case there’s a flare up.

When the brandy burns off, the flames will die out, and then add the red wine, tomato paste and garlic. Simmer over medium-low heat and cook the chicken for 50 minutes, turn only once. With about 20 minutes remaining, add the chicken broth and bacon.

Heat a frying pan to medium and warm the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté the mushrooms until softened, 3-5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, add the onions and sauté until translucent, 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and stir.

When the chicken is cooked and the sauce has thickened, add the onion-mushroom mix and parsley, stir well. Taste and adjust salt if needed. Transfer to a shallow serving bowl and enjoy.

I typically don’t pair this dish with another item. It’s usually such a fantastic dish on its own, I can’t imagine what I would serve it with other than brioche and a light whipped butter – and of course wine. Didn’t we use a red wine on this recipe? There you go.

Serves 4