Catalina Cooking: Coq Au Vin

Some the ingredients you’ll need to make Coq Au Vin. Courtesy photo

Coq Au Vin

Warm the past few days and just yesterday I was having a Sea Bass sandwich at the Lobster Trap in shorts and a t-shirt. Today I’m in Culver City at 6:30 a.m. and it is freezing and raining. Thalia, my 4-month-old granddaughter, and I do the Tuesday and Thursday Grandparent thing at Kevin and Taylor’s home. Well, the weather today said French Onion Soup … so I decided to do Coq Au Vin that I have not done in decades. This was one of Erik Estrada’s favorites in the mid ’70s in his “Chips” days at Cafe De Bon Appetite, where I worked as a teen. Always marinate in refrigerator overnight before finishing if you can.

8 chicken legs and thighs…trimmed and fat set aside

Quarter pound of slab bacon, bacon ends, porchetta or pancetta diced

Cup of a.p. flour

4 dz pearl onions peeled and blanched (pickled in jar are good and add a different element)

2 dz button or crimini mushrooms

2 long carrots diced

1 sweet onion diced

3 ribs celery diced

6 cloves

1 leave of laurel

Sprig of fresh thyme

Bulb of garlic split

2 bottles red wine. Pinot is good.

2 quarts chicken stock

3 T Tomato Paste

Pound of asparagus

1 whole red pepper roasted, peeled and sliced

2 pounds cleaned and dried spinach lightly salt, pepper and few shaves of fresh nutmeg

Basmati Rice. Follow the directions. I add a whole orange to it with herbs of Provence

Fresh Berries and whipped cream sweetened with honey and vanilla

In a couple large sauce pans put the pork and chicken fat and slowly render the fat. Remove the pork Season the chicken with salt and fresh black pepper in the sink. Toss it around real nice. Take a large brown paper bag and add the flour, about 1 T paprika and a T of Herbs of Provence. Put the chicken in, close the bag, hold both ends and shake it all about. Take out the chicken and lightly shake it and put back in the sink separated. Put this carefully in the pans skin side down with plenty of room in between. (Do in batches if need be) Cook on medium heat to slowly render the skin and slowly brown. When brown (about 16 minutes) turn and brown all sides the best you can. Remove from pan and put in a large deep baking dish. In the same pan, cook the pearl onions until browned and remove. Add the mushrooms and brown, turn and remove. Put the pork, mushrooms and pearl onions in a container in the refrigerator. Remove the fat from the pans and deglaze with a half bottle of Pinot in each pan. Take the other half of the bottle of wine and the other bottle and pour over the chicken. In a bowl, take stock, onions, celery, carrot, laurel, thyme, garlic, cloves and tomato paste. Mix this well and pour over the chicken. Best to refrigerate this whole deal overnight. The next afternoon or the same day if needed, put in a 350 oven for about 2.5 hours until nice and tender. Do not pick at the chicken. Save it for dinner. Remove from oven when done and take the chicken out and put on a platter and keep warm. Strain the sauce and put in a sauce pan and reduce until thick. Not gravy thick, but a nice smooth maple syrup consistency. Add the pork, mushrooms and pearl onions to the mixture. Final seasoning and pour over the chicken. Garnish with chopped parsley. Take a pot of boiling water and drop in the asparagus, turn off heat and let sit for 4 minutes. Remove, pat dry and arrange roasted red pepper on top. Take a hot pan with olive oil and put a clove of peeled garlic. Add the seasoned spinach and quickly toss until steamed. Steam your rice. Hand whip the cream with honey and vanilla. Spoon over your favorite berries.

Capt. Vaughn Allen was a private chef and butler for the ultra rich and famous most of his life. Vaughn was recently called out of retirement to cook the intimate celebration dinner for Sir Ringo Starr and his close friends. Vaughn is a businessman, scuba instructor and most recently a yacht broker in Redondo Beach. You can contact him at


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