Monday, October 26, 2009

Family for the Weekend

My family lives 1 hour and fifteen minutes away from me in NJ. Now, if I lived an hour and fifteen minutes away in NJ, this would be no big deal, and Mom, Dad and my sisters would be popping in and out of my house all the time.

But, because I live in another state, where they have to go through another state (NY) and over a big bridge (the Tappen Zee) to get here, my whole family just freaks out about visiting me. It's like I live in some different and exotic country (which is partially true).
So, when family visits, they often stay overnight (hence, the reason for the guest room and extra beds in the kids' rooms). This weekend, Mom and my one sister came Saturday and stayed overnight until Sunday. So I had overnight guests.

Saturday was predicted to be a wet, cold, miserable night, which proved accurate. Being the good daughter/sister, I planned a meal that was hearty, healthy and filling. I made Coq au Vin which is essentially braised chicken cooked in red wine and cognac.

Of course, I didn't want to make Coq au Vin without trying to "health it up" a bit. So I took the recipe, reduced the meat, and doubled some of the vegetables. I served it over brown basmati rice, and made a roasted beet and arugula salad on the side.

The meal was an outstanding success, and it made enough so that my husband and I had enough for leftovers on Sunday. The kids had basic baked chicken.

Here's the recipe:

Coq Au Vin

Olive oil
6 ounces good bacon
1 4 pound chicken cut up into 8 pieces, plus 2 split chicken breast cut into 8 pieces
2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 1 inch pieces
2 yellow onions, peeled and diced
4 celery stalks, sliced
2 cloves chopped garlic
1/4 cup Cognac
1 bottle dry red wine
2 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 bunch thyme leaves
2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
3 tablespoons flour
1 pound frozen small white onions
2 pounds mushrooms, sliced
chopped fresh parsley

1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Heat approximately 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crispy and lightly browned. Remove the bacon to a plate with a slotted spoon. Scoop out some of the bacon grease and leave approximately 3 tablespoons.

2. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel and salt and pepper. Brown in a single layer in the Dutch oven (you'll have to do batches), turning to brown evenly. Remove the chicken to a plate as its browned.

3. Add the carrots, diced yellow onions, celery and cook for 10-12 minutes. Add salt and pepper, add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add the Cognac and let cook until the alcohol burns off. Put the bacon, chicken and any collected juices back into the Dutch Oven. Add the wine, chicken stock, thyme and bring to a boil. Cover with a tight fitting lid and place in the over for 30-40 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Remove from the oven back to the stove (note you can get to this stage and stop several hours ahead. Just bring to a simmer and reheat on top of the stove prior to beginning the next step).

4. Cook over medium-low heat. Mash 2 tablespoons of the butter and flour together and stir into the Dutch oven. Add the frozen onions and mushrooms and simmer over medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes until mushrooms are cooked and onions are heated through. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over brown basmati rice and sprinkled with fresh parsley.

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