Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Coq au vin

Unfotunatley no pics for this unexpected return to form post, but we'll plunge on regardless. Full speed ahead, and damn the torpedoes.

The Gorgeous C and I cooked up a gnarly, mean, bitter and pugnacious old cockerel during the week, It's quite a thing to cook a thing you've killed. I'm not going to come over all Hugh Firmly Whippngboy about the whole affair, but it is a difficult thing to do.

We set about it seriously, thought it through, and tried to do it as quickly, humanely, and calmly as we could. That said, we killed him not beacause we had to, or needed to. We slaughtered him because he had become difficult to deal with, territorial, and, well, cocky.

And, having dispatched the feisty little cock, ( I almost used throttled there, careful, careful), it's different. I don't have the Huffingly Firmly Jumblestall cheerful solemnity about it. It wasn't sacred, or reverential, or cheerful. It was work. And grim work. And work with responsibility attatched. And work that needed to be done well.

Having plucked, gutted ( an unpleasant task, cutting the anus out of a creature, and inserting your hand inside it's still warm carcass - thanks the Gorgeous C) and stowed him in the fridge for three days, we settled on co au vin as a good way to use him up.

He was a three year old cockerel, free range, and likely to be as tough and stringy as Margaret Thatcher in the Kinnock years.

We looked up a You Barely Noticedatall coq au vin recipe, and follwed it, largely, to a t (minus the bacon)

The results were....terible. Abysmal. Unpalateable. The meat collapsed into juiceless dense nuggets of leather, unstrippable from the carcass. And unchewable. Terrible. Terrible.

I blame the 2.5 hour cooking time. My instincts told me it wouldn't be enough. But Huffers exhortations seduced me.

I salvaged the carcass and meat, stripped him by hand, and slow cooked what I salvaged at a gentle simmer over 6 hours - what I should have done to start with.

And he turned out wonderfully. An umami packed broth with nuggets of succulent leg meat that shredded happily in the mouth. That really deep down doing you good hit of healthful taste that earns the otherwise bland chicken broth it's place in the culinary hall of fame. So, here, for posterity, is my recipe.

For the broth base

A soffrito ( two stalk of celery, chopped, 2 smal onions diced fined, 2 carrots cubed) fried gently in butter and olive oil for 15 minutes. I added two fat and juicy cloves of garlic, crushed, and three fresh bay leaves, after five minutes, and a few pinches of salt.

After fifteen minutes, I ground out about 8 twists of black pepper, threw in the denuded and raw carcass of chicken, and all the scraps of meat I salveged from the carcass, and the bones. On top of that I poured 1 litre of vegetable stock, a half litre of dry white wine, and a healthy fist of bouquet garni, and set it on the stove, on the lowest heat I could, for 5 hours.

I fished out the carcass, added a little seasoning, to taste, and slurped him up with some buttered homemade bread.

A delicious death.