Take a fine moment to consider Sean’s brilliant take on Coq Au Vin that actually has no Vin at all. It’s a bit of fowl stewed with hard cider, two styles of sausages (including chorizo) and beans. If partridge isn’t for you, find a bird that suits you and get to pot-roasting, stat. This dish is made for Sunday supper and the latest episode of Downton Abbey, for sure. -Maggie
Coq au vin is a dish that could never be British, and yet in many ways, it’s not that different from the farmhouse stews and hotpots of rural Britain. Both France and Britain have a long history of farming and with that came simple, regional cuisine inspired by local produce. Dishes developed out of necessity; the cheapest ingredients, meats with no commercial value, and surplus vegetables of the season were the basis for most dishes. Coq au vin tells the story of French farming communities; looking at the ingredients, we understand the scene of so many individuals.
My pot-roasted partridge is something I imagine British farmers turning to once upon a time. Any walk through the country in Britain and you’ll hear the nervous cluck of the pheasant or the scratchy cry of the partridge. Partridge has always been a popular game bird in Britain, and alongside pork meat and hard cider, were abundant staples of an almost forgotten farmer’s cuisine.
If you can’t find partridge, try another game bird. I’d opt for chicken as a last resort, unless you know where to find an exceptional one. This is a dish that needs a flavorsome bird and most modern chickens lack the diet and exercise, not to mention age, to provide us with that. A traditional ‘coq’ would have been an old male bird left to roam the farm and pick away at whatever it could find. It would not have been a lean bird, but a long slow pot-roast would soften up the meat and the flavor would have been deep and slightly gamey. The closest we have to it today is a wild game bird.
This pot-roast is so rustic, full of tradition and big of flavor. It’s one of those meals you pull out of the oven and throw right on the table, letting everyone spoon out their own portion. Some really fresh crusty bread works for a lunchtime, or even some baby roasted potatoes for dinner.
Coq au Vin a la Partridge
- 1 ounce unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the frying pan
- 1 large onion
- 1 stick celery, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2-3 sprigs thyme
- 1 small apple, peeled and diced
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 partridges, pheasants, or other game bird, cut into 6 pieces
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 1/2 ounces chorizo, cut into discs
- 5 ounces sausage, roughly chopped
- 14 ounces canned butterbeans, drained
- 1 3/4 cups dry hard cider
- 2 cups chicken stock
- Place a large casserole dish over a medium heat. Heat the butter and oil and add the onions and celery and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, apple and bay leaves and cook for another few minutes.
- Season the joints of partridge with lots of salt and pepper. In a separate frying pan, heat the oil and fry the partridge until each piece takes on a good brown color, about 4 minutes. Remove the meat and add the legs, thighs and wings to the casserole dish, but keep the breasts. Brown off the leftover carcass too – it gives the dish a richness that’s absolutely necessary – and add it to the casserole, too.
- Add the chorizo and sausage to the frying pan and fry for a couple of minutes and then add to the casserole. Add the cider to the frying pan and deglaze the pan then add any scrapings and the liquid to the casserole. Add the stock straight to the casserole.
- Preheat the oven to 300°F. While waiting, bring the casserole up to a simmer over medium heat and cover with a lid and place in the oven. Giving exact guide times for cooking game is difficult because they all vary in size and age. Generally speaking 2 hours should be ample for braising even an older bird, but just use a bit of common sense – if the dark meat is not falling off the bone, give it a bit longer, and hold off from adding the breast meat. A rough guide is, after about 1 1/2 hours add the breast meat to the casserole and cook for another 20 minutes.
- Once the meat is tender, remove from the oven. I think it needs a lot of black pepper, so just grind away until you’re happy, and then season with salt if needed.
- Serve in the casserole dish and let everyone help themselves. Bread or potatoes are perfect for mopping up the broth.
Eat Boutique is an award-winning shop and story-driven recipe site created by Maggie Battista. After hosting pop-up markets for 25,000+ guests, Maggie is now focused on opening her first permanent Eat Boutique–a food-retail concept space with a new way to the very best food. Her second cookbook, A New Way to Food: Recipes That Revamped My Pantry & Made Me Love Me, At Last, will be published by Roost Books/Penguin Random House in 2019. Her first cookbook, Food Gift Love, features more than 100 food gift recipes to make, wrap, and share and is available wherever you find favorite cookbooks.