I wrote last week about how I killed the last of our chickens, and while I cooked them for dinner, I couldn’t use any ordinary chicken recipe. Most such recipes are written, naturally, for the birds you buy in stores, and they are usually young birds that have spent their short lives in cages. Some butchers sell “free-range” birds that can run around, scratch and have healthier chicken lives, but they still are killed while still young and tender.
Our birds have been running around outside mowing our lawn and fighting over kitchen scraps for five years, and their meat would be tough and chewy. Clearly, a different sort of recipe was required, and I chose Coq au vin.
Coq au vin, French for “rooster in wine,” is the classic way of cooking a rooster or old chicken that would otherwise be too tough to eat. I adapted a variety of recipes for what’s in our garden right now, and what’s probably in yours.
If you are doing this with an old bird, wait 24 hours after killing it to let the rigor mortis fade. Cook it until the meat is ready to fall off the bone. Of course, you could do this same recipe with a store-bought bird, and just reduce the cooking time by a few hours.
1 old chicken,
2 strips of rashers,
100g of flour,
100g of breadcrumbs,
10g of salt,
5g of pepper
10 ml of dark soy sauce
10 ml of lemon juice
100 ml of chicken stock
Several cloves of garlic
First, get the flour, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper and mix them in a plastic bag. Take the chicken and pull it into a few pieces, put them in the plastic bag, and shake until the chicken is coated.
Next, oil a baking pan – preferably with a lid, or you can just cover it with tinfoil. Put the chicken pieces in, sprinkling the rest of the flour mix over them evenly, and cover them with the rashers. Cook them at 200 degrees C for 20 minutes.
Then take the pan out and set aside, making sure the chicken isn’t sticking to the dish. Add one bottle of red wine, 10 ml of dark soy sauce, 10 ml of lemon juice, and 100 ml of chicken stock, place in the oven for three hours.
Finally, take the dish out one more time – I waited for it to cool enough to pull the meat off the bones, and then put the bones aside for stock, or you can leave the bones on. I also realised, when the Coq Au Vin was done, that I had not cooked it enough, so I've adjusted the times accordingly.
Then add vegetables. I added beetroot, diced into cubes about two centimetres thick; fennel, sliced thickly; onions, sliced into quarters, and several cloves of garlic.
Put it back in for another hour or so, or until the meat and vegetables are tender.
Photo: Dinner was that white one in the back.