Sunday, December 11, 2011

Dark Days Week 2: Coq au Vin

As I've dug into what sort of products are available to me for this challenge, there is one thing I am certain I won't have to go without: booze. You do not have to venture far to find a local version of your drink of choice, be it beer, wine, hard ciderliqueurs, or heck, we even make vodka. One of the more famous alcoholic drinks from Quebec, aside from hard cider, is Caribou which seems to be the French-Canadian version of mulled wine or glögg. I've not had it myself (yet), but I've heard it'll put hair on your chest. Or perhaps singe it off

Anyway! I digress. Point being, we gotta lotta da strong stuff ;) So, how best to put it to use? Why, by drinking it, of course! But also by cooking with it... and for this particular task I chose to cook up some local chicken with some carrots, mushrooms and onions into the dish known as Coq au Vin.

As with the chicken and dumplings last week, I used more of my 'accidentally' local chicken and veg. Again the main ingredients were local within 50-60 miles, but I used normal beef bullion, flour and herbs as that is what I had available. The recipe I used was from my mom's vintage 1980's Canadian Living cookbook (I love that thing!); this one on their website is fairly close to the one I used, if you want to try it yourself. Most versions of this dish are made with red wine, however it is possible to use white or rosé (or even champagne) instead... just make sure you get one that has enough character to stand up to the long cooking process. 

This is a great dish to serve for company, as it requires minimal work (just a bit of prep, then have a peek now and then while it cooks), makes your house smell _amazing_ and makes for incredible leftovers. Personally, I think it tastes better the next day anyway, so I often cook it in my dutch oven in advance, let it cool then plunk the whole thing in the fridge for a day or two, then reheat in the same pot before serving. Plus it just sounds fancier than plain ol' chicken stew ;) 

The wine I chose for this dish was Cuvée Julien (sorry, their site is only in French) from Domaine les Brome, located about 100 km/60 miles east of here in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. 

I didn't chose this wine for any specific reason other than I was able to find it. Hunting down local wine at the SAQ (wine/liquor store in Quebec) seems to be a feat of Herculean proportions, which irritates me as we have more than 15 different wineries just in the Montérégie region (where I am) alone... more than 70 of them in the province of Quebec. But it seems that if you want to buy their products, you're better off trekking to the winery directly than trying to find it at the SAQ. Anyway, grumbling aside, I only had a few wines to chose from that were local, and this one fit the bill the best. I have to be honest, for drinking, it really didn't knock my socks off, but then I've always preferred California wines. However, once it was cooked, man did this dish turn out well!!! It was rich and flavourful with the wine adding a subtle tang that didn't hit you over the head as I've had with some other wines I used in this same recipe. The flavour was deep and just a tiny bit sweet thanks to the caramelized onions and carrots.... served with potatoes or rice, or even just a fresh baguette, really tasty stuff. 

So there we have week 2 done... next week I think I will be trying a dessert, and after that will already be Christmas! How is it the end of the year sneaks up on me like this every time?!

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