Coq Au Vin Blanc is a classic French dish. Chicken is simmered in white wine with mushrooms, onions, bacon, and herbs until tender and delicious.
One of my favorite places in the Boulogne marché is the poultry stand “En Direct de la Ferme” run by M. and Mme. Denfert. They sell fresh eggs and all manner of poultry, from tiny cailles (quail) to larger capons, guinea fowl, and chicken. Come late in the morning, and you’ll find their large stack of egg crates dangerously close to empty. There is nearly always a line—one just for the eggs, which are beautiful with bright orange yolks, and one for the poultry orders. The always smiling and gregarious Mme. Denfert will take your order, advising on the right bird for the dish you want to make and the number of people to serve.
This week, I told Mme. Denfert that I planned to make Coq Au Vin Blanc. She picked out a poulet for me, and then debated with the young man working with her about the merits of marinating the chicken first. (Verdict, yes with an older chicken but not necessary for this one.) A few expert smacks of her cleaver later, my chicken pieces were wrapped in paper and tucked into my shopping bag.
I love supporting small farms like this one, where the farmers care deeply about their animals. And buying direct from the farmers' market means no plastic used to package the final product. Raising chicken still has a larger environmental impact than growing vegetables of course, but it’s significantly lower than that for larger animals like cows and sheep. So if you are a meat eater wanting to reduce the impact of the choices you make, chicken is not a bad option.
What is Coq Au Vin Blanc?
The classic Coq Au Vin is chicken braised in red wine, but this is a white wine version. Chicken, mushrooms, bacon, and onions are sautéed and lightly browned, then simmered for over an hour in a bottle of white wine, chicken broth, and aromatics. When the dish is done, the chicken is so tender, it is falling off the bone, and the kitchen smells like a dream. This is a weekend dish, not a 30-minute weeknight wonder, but it is so worth it. Imagine coming home from a chilly errand run and smelling this simmering away on your stovetop. (I’ve done it, and I’ve never been prouder of myself. Ha.)
How to make Coq Au Vin Blanc
Begin by prepping your ingredients. Halve onion, then peel and slice into thin half moons. Wipe mushrooms with a damp paper towel, trim off bottom of stems, and cut into ¼-inch slices. If you are working with bacon slices instead of lardons, stack together and cut crosswise into ¼ inch slices. Heat 2 T. olive oil in a large stockpot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Place half of the chicken pieces in the pan skin-side down and brown for 3 minutes. Then flip and brown the second side for 3 minutes. Remove, and repeat with other half of the chicken pieces.
Remove all chicken from the pan and turn heat down to medium. Add lardons or bacon slices. Sauté until fat begins to render and bacon begins to crisp, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Turn heat back up to medium-high. Add mushroom slices and cook until mushrooms have released their liquid and begin to brown, about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove mushrooms and bacon from pan. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to pan, then add onions. Sauté until onions have softened and lightly browned, about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Return everything to the pan including chicken. Add 8 oz. pearl onions, 2 sprigs of thyme, 2 bay leaves, a bottle of crisp white wine, and enough water or chicken broth to just submerge the ingredients (about 2 cups).
Bring to a simmer, then turn down heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 1.5-2 hours, until chicken is falling off the bone tender. Remove chicken and some of the vegetables as best you can with a slotted spoon, and turn heat up.
Bring broth to a brisk simmer, and reduce for 15 minutes. Remove thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Now, at this point, you can just add the chicken and vegetables back into the broth and serve. Or, if you’re like me, wait for the chicken to be cool enough to handle and remove meat from the bones before adding back into the broth. It’s more traditional to leave the chicken on the bone, but I prefer it this way. Taste broth and add more salt and pepper, as desired. Reheat until warm. Serve with a sprinkle of chopped fresh thyme.
- Chicken: This dish is perfect for a whole chicken cut up into pieces. However, you could also make this dish with just chicken thighs, just chicken legs, or just chicken breasts. You’ll get better flavor and more tender meat if you stick to chicken that is on the bone. That said, if you want to use boneless chicken breasts or thighs, you can. Just pay attention that you don’t overcook the meat.
- Wine: See below for my advice on what wine is best for cooking chicken in this dish.
- Onions: This dish uses both sliced regular onions and pearl onions. I love the little pearl onions in this dish, but if you can’t find them, you can use some additional regular onions or add in a few shallots. Pearl onions are also a bear to peel if you can’t find them pre-peeled—this is why the freezer section is your friend. Look for them there rather than in the produce department. If you’re in France, Picard stocks them.
- Lardons/Bacon: You can omit these from the dish, though I do love the richness they add.
- Mushrooms: If you’re in France, I love champignons de Paris in this dish. They are meaty and sturdy, and so easy to find. In the U.S., button or cremini mushrooms are just fine as well. You could even add a mix of different types of mushrooms if you wanted to play around with the dish.
What wine is best for Coq Au Vin Blanc?
For Coq Au Vin Blanc, choose a dry white wine like a Sauvignon Blanc, an unoaked Chardonnay, or even a dry Riesling. My favorite wine vendor steered me towards an inexpensive Sauvignon Blanc/Chardonnay blend described as crisp, citrusy, lively, and well balanced, and it was perfect. Stay away from those oaky Chardonnays, which can add a bitter note to your stew. As always, choose something that you would drink on its own, as quality always comes through in the final dish.
Is cooking with wine safe for children and pregnant women?
This dish spends a lot of time simmering, during which the vast majority of the alcohol in the wine burns off. So there is no problem with serving to children or pregnant women or anyone abstaining from alcohol. If you are worried about this, there are some things you can do to make sure your dish is not alcoholic—simmer your stew with the lid slightly ajar, so that the steam can leave the pot, and use a large pan. The more surface area on your simmering stew, the more alcohol evaporates. And the more time you simmer, the more alcohol evaporates as well. Just keep in mind that if you add on more simmering time, you may need to add in some additional water or chicken broth to make sure you have the amount of sauce you want in the final dish.
Can I freeze Coq Au Vin Blanc?
Yes! This is such a great dish to freeze. There is no dairy in it to separate, and the liquid of the stew keeps the chicken tender and delicious even when reheated after being frozen. The only thing to note is that you may want to have some chicken broth on hand to add to the stew when you are reheating it. Liquid often is absorbed when the dish is frozen, so you may need to add more on the reheat.
Can I reheat Coq Au Vin?
Yes! Coq Au Vin keeps beautifully in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. And, in fact, it’s even better the day after you make it, as all of the flavors have had time to meld together deliciously. Reheat either on medium heat in the microwave, stirring occasionally, or reheat in a saucepan over the stove.
If you enjoy this dish, you might enjoy some of my other French-inspired recipes like:
- Quiche Florentine
- Easy Sole Meuniere
- Hachis Parmentier (Shepherd's Pie)
- Frisée Salad with Baguette Croutons
- Salade de Tomates
- Vin Chaud
- Green Beans Almondine
- French Lentil Soup
- Braised Leeks with Crispy Bacon
- 3 T. olive oil, divided
- 4 lb. (1.8kg) whole chicken, cut into pieces
- 5.5 oz. (150g) lardons or thick bacon slices
- 1 lb (450g) button or crimini mushrooms
- 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 8 oz. (225g) frozen peeled pearl onions
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme, plus chopped thyme to garnish
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 1 bottle (750ml) vin blanc (white wine)
- 2 cups of water or chicken broth
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- Begin by prepping your ingredients. Halve onion, then peel and slice into thin half moons.
- Wipe mushrooms with a damp paper towel, trim off bottom of stems, and cut into ¼-inch slices.
- If you are working with bacon slices instead of lardons, stack together and cut crosswise into ¼ inch slices.
- Heat 2 T. olive oil in a large stockpot or dutch oven over medium-high heat.
- Sprinkle both sides of the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
- Place half of the chicken pieces in the pan skin-side down and brown for 3 minutes, then flip and brown the second side for 3 minutes. Remove, and repeat with other half of the chicken pieces.
- Remove all chicken from the pan and turn heat down to medium.
- Add lardons or bacon slices. Sauté until fat begins to render and bacon begins to crisp, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
- Turn heat back up to medium-high. Add mushroom slices and cook until mushrooms have released their liquid and begin to brown, about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove mushrooms and bacon from pan.
- Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to pan, then add onions.
- Sauté until onions have softened and lightly browned, about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds, until fragrant.
- Return everything to the pan including chicken.
- Add pearl onions, 2 sprigs of thyme, 2 bay leaves, wine, and enough water or chicken broth to just submerge the ingredients (about 2 cups).
- Bring to a simmer, then turn down heat to medium-low.
- Cover and cook for 1.5-2 hours, until chicken is falling off the bone.
- Remove chicken and some of the vegetables as best you can with a slotted spoon, and turn heat up.
- Bring broth to a brisk simmer, and reduce for 15 minutes.
- Remove thyme sprigs and bay leaves.
- When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove meat from the bones, then add chicken meat and vegetables back into the broth.
- Taste broth and add more salt and pepper, as needed.
- Reheat until warm.
- Serve with a sprinkle of chopped fresh thyme.
Choose a crisp, dry white wine like a Sauvignon Blanc or an unoaked Chardonnay for this dish.
If you want a more traditional version, leave the chicken on the bone rather than taking it off. Just put the chicken pieces back in the broth after it has reduced.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1583Total Fat: 86gSaturated Fat: 23gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 55gCholesterol: 438mgSodium: 1193mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 4gSugar: 9gProtein: 141g
Nutrition information is provided as a general reference for users courtesy of the online nutrition calculator Nutritionix. NOTE: The calorie and fat measurements for this recipe are too high, as Nutritionix does not take into account the fact that the meat of the chicken is taken off the bone, discarding the skin and unsavory bits.