The Beer Chicks’ Coq à la Bière

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Let's just get it right out of the way that "Coq" means "rooster" okay?  Deal with it.  Moving on, one of our favorite dishes of all time is the delightful Coq au Vin, which means "Rooster cooked in wine."  Originally made from extra roosters that came poking around (if you catch our drift), this is French provincial cooking at its finest. And it's even better with BEER!

The most famous variation of this dish is from the Burgundy region which uses their earthy Pinot Noir as the wine in the recipe, but it's not unheard of – in the northern regions that produce only white to use wine wine in the recipe.  You know what else is produced widely in the northern regions of France?  Correctez vous!  Vive la bière!

Like many dishes, Coq au Vin was a dish that used what was available, a "make due" dish if you will, with many different family recipes spanning Western Europe. So, don't worry about using your delicate poussins for this dish – they'll fall apart.  Buy the "chipper chicken" at the grocery store for under $2.00/lb - find a great French Bière de Garde, and make the best and most traditional Coq à la Bière this side of the big pond!

We love the artisanal beers from Brasserie Castelain à Bénifontaine.  They are reviving artisanal brewing in France (another country with over 90% mass produced / industrialized beer) making three delicious country and farmhouse style beers.  Our favorite is their Castelain Blonde Bière de Garde, which is actually a very rarely made beer style.  It's earthy, dry, herbaceous, grassy, with citrus aromatics and a long but light malty finish.

Try this delicious classic Coq à la Bière using artisanal Bière de Garde made lovingly in the north of France.  Once you eat this you'll be saying "Oui, Oui, Oui!"

The Beer Chicks' Coq à la Bière

Ingredients:

1 bottle (750ml) Castelain Blonde Bière de Garde*  
3 fresh thyme sprigs
2 fresh rosemary sprigs 
1 bay leaf
1/2 leek (cut lengthwise)
6 oz. thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice 
3 1/4 lb. chicken thighs and legs
1 lb. button mushrooms sliced thickly
3/4 lb. shallots, halved
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs. tomato paste
2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 Tbs. finely chopped parsley

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 350°F.

In a large saucepan over high heat, slowly pour the beer and boil the beer until reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Place the rosemary, thyme sprigs and bay leaf against the cut side of the halved leek and tie with kitchen twine. Set aside.

In a 5 1/2-quart Dutch oven over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Discard all but 2 Tbs. of the fat from the pot. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Set the same pot over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, brown the chicken, turning once, 8 to 10 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate.

Discard all but 2 Tbs. of the fat from the pot. Return the pot to medium-high heat, add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the shallots and barely cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Reduce the heat to medium and melt the butter. Add the garlic, tomato paste and flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the reduced beer and the broth, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Add the bacon, chicken, mushroom mixture, carrots and bouquet garni. Cover, transfer to the oven and bake until the chicken is tender, about 1 1/2 hours. 

Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. If the sauce needs thickening, transfer the chicken to a plate. Set the pot over medium-high heat and simmer until the sauce is thickened, 12 to 15 minutes.  Discard the bouquet garni. Return the chicken to the pot. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve in the pot immediately. We served ours over egg noodles.  Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from a recipe from Williams-Sonoma.com, which was adapted from a recipe from Canal House Cooking, Vol. 2, by Christopher Hirsheimer & Melissa Hamilton.
 
*Other great Bière de Garde beers to use are Avant Garde by The Lost Abbey in San Marcos, CA and Bière de Garde by Brewery Ommegang from Cooperstown, NY.