Monday, January 11, 2010

The Classics Revisited This Week at The Majestic

Another fun and successful day has passed in the kitchen at The Majestic.  I unexpectedly received the night off from work, so I headed out to the market at 3 pm.  Food cost around $50 this week and cooking time was about 4 hours, so it was very much an average evening in terms of cost and time investment.  I roasted a lot of things today because my kitchen is rather drafty.  If I have the oven on the entire time I am cooking, it heats up the scullery nicely.  It's a nightmare in the summer, but I'm glad to have it in the very cold winter months.

This week's menu was inspired by the fabulous set of DVD's that Dan gave me for Christmas: The Way to Cook by Julia Child.  I made Coq au Vin in homage to the grand dame of French cuisine utilizing some basic techniques covered in these wonderful instructional videos.  I sauteed mushrooms, roasted onions and garlic, and braised the chicken in red wine.  It's a pretty easy and wonderful thing to make and I will give all of the full details in a recipe below.  It takes some time, but the results are magnificent and hearty.

Other menu items include a curried cauliflower puree, frozen from a couple of weeks ago, that I will probably turn into a risotto and/or thin out to make a soup over the course of the week.  I am also making a rich stock in the crock pot with trimmings from the chicken, some inexpensive marrow and beef rib bones, and plenty of leftover red wine from the mulled wine I made for my Christmas party.  I will turn into into a sort of Soubise with caramelized onions pureed in, a touch of cream, and some prosciutto and cheese tortellini that I bought simmered in the broth.

I brined and roasted the chicken breast to make lunch meat for sandwiches along with Boston lettuce and a roasted garlic and tarragon mayo that I made by hand with Dan's help.  Dan was kind enough to drizzle in the oil while I whisked away; it can be an awkward procedure without help.  We will eat our sandwiches on bread from the bread machine that I bought for Dan for Christmas.  The basic white loaf is baking now and smells amazing!  I can hardly wait for lunch tomorrow.  Oh yeah... there is a potato and leek soup too made with leftover Cava.  Potato leek can be eaten cold as vichysoisse or hot with a touch of cream added at the last minute.  It is delicious and nutritious.

Again, all of that food for so little money!  It's amazing what some smart grocery shopping can do.  Basically I am getting three meals out of one chicken and creating another with "scraps" of beef that might go to waste otherwise.  The tortellini is ready-made, but it's a corner that I am willing to cut due to my limited counter space.

Without further ado, here is my take on Julia's Coq au Vin.  It makes a wonderful meal for two and can be made ahead if you have company coming.  I served it with a side parsnips, iron skillet cornbread, and a chutney made with raspberry balsamic vinegar (a gift from mom), roasted shallots, and garlic.  It was delicious!

CQ's Take on Julia's Coq au Vin

2 chicken leg quarters
1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
1 pound Cremini or button mushrooms, washed and quartered
1 small shallot minced
1 bouquet garni (thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf tied in a bundle)
1 bottle dry red wine
1/2 cup dry white Vermouth
2 tablespoons butter
dried parsley
salt and pepper

For the mushrooms:
  1. Heat EVOO in a sturdy 12" stainless steel frying pan.  Once the oil begins to smoke add half of the mushrooms to the pan, tossing with a good amount of salt.
  2. Once the mushrooms have browned, add the remaining ones and repeat tossing and salting in the hot skillet.
  3. When the mushrooms are all a lovely brown, add the shallot and sautee quickly until transparent.
  4. Add the vermouth to deglaze and reduce by half.
  5. Set aside for later use.
For the chicken:
  1. Preheat oven to 350˚.
  2. Heat EVOO in a cast iron Dutch oven on the stove over medium high heat.  Season chicken quarters generously with salt and add to the hot pan when the oil begins to shimmer.  Brown on both sides and remove to a plate to be added later.
  3. Add the carrot, celery, and onion to the same pan to caramelize.  Once the vegetables are cooked to you liking, add the chicken back in.  Add enough to wine so as to leave the chicken partially uncovered.  Add the bouquet garni and put the lid on.  Drink the leftover wine while you are waiting for the chicken to cook.
  4. Braise in the oven for about an 90 minutes covered.
  5. Remove the chicken to a heated platter and strain the cooking liquid into a sturdy saucepan.  Reduce by half to make the sauce.
  6. Add the sauteed mushrooms and heat through.  Stir in the butter just before serving and correct seasoning.
  7. Top the chicken with the mushroom and red wine reduction and garnish with dried parsley.
  8. Serve immediately.
With Wine: We had a nice Bordeaux with our dinner tonight and it was delicious with the savory rich character of the Coq au Vin.  We drank Larose de Gruaud, St. Julien from the 2005 vintage.  I'm finishing the last of it up as I write this blog entry.  On the nose, it has a lovely black currant fruit with undertones of leather and green tobacco - wonderfully classic.  It went great with the rich sauce and the chicken because it is full-flavored and has a long silky tannins on the finish.

Bon appetit!

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