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Forum Thread - Ian\'s Coq au Vin Recipe is now on the site

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Kavey, on 16/10/2005 02:41pm

http://www.mamtaskitchen.com/recipe_display.php?id=13057

Ian, as you know, mum had a go at the recipe and then sent it to me. I've edited it quite heavily for clarity, and you've already checked and approved all my changes.

Can you have a look at the recipe as it now is, on the site, and let me know directly if there are any errors.

Thanks again,

Kavita

AskCy, on 16/10/2005 06:53pm

before I go for a look, is there a yummy photo ???

Kavey, on 16/10/2005 08:13pm

No, as we've not tried the recipe, but if anyone cooks it soon and can send one digitally, we'll add it.

We're behind on adding photos as real-life work has meant less time for MK stuff but I'll try and load some more up soon.

Ian Hoare, on 18/10/2005 04:01pm

Sorry for the delay in replying, but I had a fright with my ADSL modem as it wouldn't keep connected. All OK now.

The recipe is fine, except for two missed e acute accents on beurre mani?. To type an e acute in HTML (assuming you can edit by hand) you use the following code "& e a c u t e ;" (I have separated all the letters by a space, which is to avoid some browsers re-rendering as an eacute!!)

I know it's quite long, but as a Cock is quite hard to get hold of, I do suggest that it's worth pushing the boat out to get the dish right.

ATB

Ian

Kavey, on 18/10/2005 05:07pm

Yeah I excluded the accents - it's habit I guess as so many systems won't display them correctly.

I'll look at adding them back in.

kennyliza, on 20/11/2005 09:33am

Ah, but was it authentic Welsh Rarebit??!!

Phil, on 20/11/2005 01:24pm

My wife is refusing to have a roast goose for Christmas. While I'm tempted to sulk about this, I thought I'd be positive and suggest an alternative: Ian Hoare's Coq Au Vin recipe. I've just been across to see The Old Lady Who Lives On The Hill here in southern France, surrounded by countless free-range chickens, ducks, geese, guinea fowl and pigeons (and the odd turkey).

When I said I wanted to buy a coq for coq au vin, I was sternly told that only an old cock would do, and that she had only young cockerels, suitable for roasting, but not for coq au vin. There were general grumblings of assent about this among the rustics seated at the farmhouse table, and I was sent off with my tail between my legs.

Was she right, Ian? (Your recipe says either an old or a young one.)Or was this just another case of the locals putting the foreigners in their place?

Cheers

Phil

Ian Hoare, on 23/1/2006 09:13am

Phil,

I'm so sorry, I've only just seen your message on this thread again.

Strictly a coq au vin was designed to use an elderly bruiser that was inedibly tough cooked any other way. So to that extent, your neighbours were right. It's obvious equally that a young cockerel of 90 days will be far too tender to cook in that way - it would be a "poulet" still. I am not sure how your neighbour's young cocks were supposed to be cooked. Did you ask them if they were still young enough to roast? I guess that would be the key question, any bird tender enough to be roasted would certainly not do for coq au vin.

I guess that what I meant by "a young cock" was one of only 18 months or so, fully adult, but not the ancient warrior for which this dish is perfect.

Hope that helps for next time.

BTW, what did you do?

ATB

Ian

Phil, on 23/1/2006 06:30pm

Hello Ian

Good to hear from you.

Yes, the old lady on the hill said that her cockerels were for only roasting. It was my wife, and not me, who finally got a coq from a reliable butcher/traiteur in Montpellier, and she failed to ask the age, alas. But he knew it was for coq au vin, and he's reputable, so I think it must have been old enough.

Well, I spent three days on this, the longest recipe I've ever followed. I've been boasting to friends that I had a 5 page recipe, with 29 instructions and 8 footnotes. French, British and American friends have been impressed that I saw it through to the end, and many have enquired how it went. I made a point of telling French friends that this was a traditional French recipe explained in detail by an Englishman!

I was struck by the amount of meat on a coq, even though you'd told us that they were big birds. It cost us 28 euros, but it was big enough to feed eight, which shows that good food isn't necessarily expensive, and that people on modest incomes needn't necessarily eat badly. (In this case, there's the cost of the wine, of course).

My wife and I had a thigh each on Christmas Eve, with the button mushrooms and button onions, as you suggested. And 'ratte' potatoes. This was preceded by locally farmed oysters as a starter. My Belgian wife was impressed, and, in my experience, the Belgians know their food and wine.

We froze the rest: is that shocking? I hope not: we're going to serve it to French weekend guests very soon.

Just one query, probably a naive and ignorant one. When the big pot of coq au vin had been left in the fridge, the sauce became gelatinous: it had 'set', like a jelly. Is that normal? Does one simply re-heat it and serve? Is this what's called a 'glaze'? It's not the same as the hard yellow fat that often settles on the top of a meat-based dish.

Many thanks again for providing me with my first atempt at a dish that many French friends have never tried to cook.

Any further advice gratefully accepted!

Cheers

Phil

Ian Hoare, on 23/1/2006 10:38pm

Hi Phil

I'm delighted to see that you're still with us and that you and your wife liked the recipe.

I have no problems about freezing the rest, what I do with it, sometimes, is to bottle it and sterilise it, so there's nothing to choose between us!

As for the juices having jellied, yes that's absolutely normal. I don't want to get all technical about this, but when collagen (the connective tissue of muscles, which is what can make some meats tough) is heated gently, it is slowly converted to gelatine. The whole point of this recipe with its successive very gentle heating and cooling, is to do just that. So the stiff jelly is a proof you followed the recipe perfectly. The juice, mopped up with bread (french) or spuds (english) is the best part of the dish, by the way.

When you reheat it, please don't use the microwave, just let it thaw overnight or longer, and warm it in the oven as you did before. Make your onion/mushroom garnish again (if you don't have any left) and add them in for a last minute simmer to meld the flavours.

You may like to ask madame your neighbour if she has a recipe for her younger cocks, and try one of them out - you could always bounce it off me first, if you like. In a few months, it will be the fresh morel season, and there's a phenomenal recipe for a youg cock with morels, cream and vin jaune!!! It's well up to coq au vin standard, possibly even more refined.

Best of luck with your house guests.

ATB

Ian

Phil, on 24/1/2006 06:51pm

Many thanks Ian.

I'll serve it up with bread for the French to dip in the sauce (a habit I fully approve of; I do the same with naan in Indian dishes. A French friend once told me that he didn't know what to do with his hands at the dinner table if he didn't have bread!)

I'll check on those roasting coqs with the old lady who lives on the hill. Your recipe sounds really interesting.

Thanks too for explaining the collagen-to-gelatine conversion. I'd guessed that this jelly must have been an integral part of the sauce, but I'd never seen it before.

We don't have a micro-wave; I'll be sure to be gentle in re-heating.

Just one final query: Keith Floyd talks of making a 'glaze', to be used in sauces. What is this, exactly, and what's its function?

Phil

AskCy, on 24/1/2006 09:41pm

If Keith Floyd is talking about a glaze and he doesn't mean his eyes, then he probably means a sauce/marinade that you coat something with....

AskCy, on 24/1/2006 09:45pm

Just re-read your post...

does Keith Floyd say something like "add... to give it a glaze" ?.. usually something like butter into a sauce/gravy (sometimes even arrowroot) to give the finished sauce a glossy shine (more for appearance than anything else)

Phil, on 25/1/2006 10:36am

I should have been clearer: I know that you can, for example, brush food with, say, egg, giving it a shiny glaze after it's been put in the oven. But I think that Floyd is talking about something else when he tells us how to make veal glaze in his 'Feast of Floyd' book: it's essentially reduced veal stock which, he says, sets like a jelly, and is used to make various sauces. I'm just not clear as to exactly how one uses such glazes in sauces, and what difference it makes whether one uses a glaze or non-reduced stock. This query no doubt reveal my considerable ignorance of the basics of classic French cooking.

Phil

Ian Hoare, on 26/1/2006 12:04am

Hi Phil,

When you take meat stock, and reduce it, the proportion of water contained within it gets lower and lower. Eventually, you're left with just the dissolved gelatine, flavouring elements, and so on. That would be unusable and bitter and burnt. I suppse you could think of it as the functional equivalent of a stock cube! (LOL). However, if you stop just short of boiling off _all_ the water, it will be like very very strong stock and that's the delicious glaze that Floyd was talking about. It is a very stiff jelly, and will keep ages in the fridge. There's another product in french cooking called a "Demi-Glace" often translated by "half-glaze". That's not made in quite the same way and you can find recipes with google. That's used as a sauce and as a base for other more complex sauces.

The best use for a glaze is to round out soups and stews and other sauces when they're a bit lacking in flavour.

Hope that helps

Ian

Phil, on 28/1/2006 06:12pm

Hi again Ian,

Many thanks for that clarification on glazes. I need to work more on stocks and glazes for French dishes.

We didn't make it to the market this morning, but I think I'll look into this idea of using blettes for sag aloo. Just mentioned it yesterday to a French friend who's a vegetarian (rare that, among the French)and likes decent Indian food, which is rather rare in Indian restaurants in France, as I guess you've noticed. I suppose it's just that the French, despite (or because of) having their own impressive culinary traditions, seem to be rather wary of 'spicy' food. And so the Indian (and Chinese) restaurants turn Indian and Chinese food into something rather bland. or so it seems to me.

By the way, the same friend told me that she once encountered 'sag paneer' in an 'Indian' restaurant in France in which the 'paneer' was the Vache Qui Rit processed cheese. What an abomination!

Cheers

Phil

Phil, on 26/2/2006 02:30pm

I mentioned my coq au vin to French friends last night. I was told by one of them that her mother cooked coq au vin every second Sunday (alternating with rabbit). I asked whether this was made with a real cockerel. She said that it was. I doubt it (how many cockerels would you have to have to do that?) She also said that there's no need to marinate, and that the cooking lasts an hour.

Just goes to show: you can sometime learn more about French cooking from a Brit than from a native of France.

Phil

AskCy, on 26/2/2006 06:05pm

Everyone cooks the "same" thing differently though... you may know one way but it doesn't mean its the only correct way....

Look at best British Breakfast... for one person it will mean Bacon and Eggs.. and the same for another...but it could be...

Fried Bacon and Fried Eggs.

or

Grilled bacon and Fried eggs

or

Fried bacon and scrambled eggs

or

Grilled bacon and scrambled eggs

or

Griddled bacon and coddled eggs

or

oven baked bacon and poached eggs

or

Scrambled eggs with a scattering of bacon cubes ....

etc etc etc

and then theres.. how to fry and egg..low heat long time.. high heat short time.. how to fry bacon.. fast on a high heat.. slow.. cut the fat off.. don't cut the fat.. dry out in the oven... etc etc etc...

So no one can say this is the only and correct way of cooking something..... its all about personal taste, cost, ability etc....

:-)

Phil, on 27/2/2006 09:33pm

Yes, I agree that there are different ways of cooking things, according to taste.

But it surely can't just be 'anything goes': if you have an old cockerel, it just can't be right to not marinate it and cook it for an hour: that doesn't make any sense.

What my French friend's mother was cooking was chicken, surely.

The French don't always know as much as they think they know about cooking, and that extends beyonds cooking: there are Brits here who make better wines than the locals.

Phil

Ian H, on 28/2/2006 12:42am

Hi,

When talking about recipes with foreign titles, we do all often seem to put our brains in neutral. A Frenchman might well seek to make "English breakfast" for lunch. An ex kenyan restaurateur might well try to make Vindaloo with potatoes and without pork, vinegar or garlic. And an Englishman might seek to make a Coq au Vin with a rabbit. But they all forget that these titles have a real meaning in the country in which they were invented. So "Coq" means an adult male chicken, "au" means with and "Vin" means wine. All the rest is negotiable!

That said, if a recipe has been developed and evolved over many years in the country of origin, and that country has as many talented cooks as India or France has, then it's likely that the recipe has become refined to make the best of the ingredients from which it is made and that the better recipe has become more and more widely known and (perhaps) improved upon. But at the same time, such a recipe needs to keep its metaphorical feet on the ground and not become so fanciful that it has altogether lost touch with its roots.

ATB

Ian

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