This classic Coq au Vin with the subtle variation of cinnamon and orange is something everyone needs to try. The delicate flavour of the orange creates an overall zesty flavour rather than the strong taste of the fruit, and the warmth of the cinnamon brings out the flavour of the wine and the other ingredients. It is quick, easy and really is a fantastic, impressive and delicious dish to enjoy with friends and family.Ingredients
2 whole chickens (cut into 8 pieces each)
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of rosemary
8 large sprigs of thyme
Peel of 1 orange
1 cinnamon stick
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 whole head of garlic, each clove sliced thinly
1 tbsp brown sugar
8 pieces of good quality bacon, diced
2 cups of portobellini mushrooms, halved 6 shallots or baby onions
3 tots of brandy or Cognac
6 cups heavy red wine
1 cup chicken stock
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Butter and oil as needed
Start by preparing your chickens. Wash and pat dry the chickens. Remove both leg quarters and both breasts. Remove the skin, then divide the breast in half and separate the drumstick from the thigh. In a pan, place butter and oil and place over medium/high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown each piece in the pan. Be sure to not over-load your pan as it will lose heat. Rather do it in batches.
Place the browned chicken pieces into an oven tray with high sides. Make a bouquet garni with the thyme, rosemary, orange peel, cinnamon and bay leaf. This can be done by either placing all the ingredients in a piece of muslin cloth and tying shut, or by just tying them all together with string. This step is to allow for the flavours to impart but to also allow for easy removal of inedible twigs before eating.
Place the same pan that the chicken was browned in back on the heat. Cook the bacon in the pan until it just starts to crisp up. Bang up the heat and then pour a splash of red wine into the pan and scrape the bottom to deglaze all the flavour. Once reduced, add in the tomato paste, mushrooms, garlic and onions. Add the brandy and set alight to flambé.
Add the remaining wine and the chicken stock. Rub the 20g butter together with the 20g flour to create a Beurre Manie, and break little bits of this off into the sauce whilst stirring. This will thicken the sauce gradually.
Once ready, pour the mixture over the sealed chicken, ensuring that the bacon, onion and mushrooms are dispersed evenly.
Place in the oven at 1600c for about an hour and a half until the chicken is cooked and tender. Turn the pieces half way through cooking. Season with salt and pepper once cooked and serve hot with a side of your choice. I enjoy it with a nice crusty baguette to soak up the sauce.
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