Category Archives: poultry

Coq Au Vin, the Ultimate One Pot Dinner

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Just because I like to cook it doesn’t mean I don’t love shortcuts in the kitchen. Serving delicious food to my family and friends doesn’t always equal hours spent behind the hot stove. I am usually on the lookout for the recipes that are tasty yet simple. This Coq Au Vin (French for “Chicken in Wine”) is one of those dishes that is good enough to serve for a fancy dinner yet doesn’t require much hands-on time. It could be cooked a few hours in advance and then reheated quickly right before dinner. This way you can relax and make yourself look pretty and avoid greeting your guests all red and sweaty. French cuisine is so impressive for its ability to be sophisticated and deeply satisfying and comforting at the same time. Just look at that spread. Who wouldn’t want to sit down to a bowl of flavourful chicken cooked in wine with some crusty bread!
Coq-Au-Vin
The rich taste in this wonderful dish comes from the quality ingredients and a few spices artfully put together. No chef skills required. Have no fear, it’s impossible not to ace it! I have made Coq Au Vin numerous times. It doesn’t get old and it’s always a crowd pleaser. You can guess from the name that wine is one of the main ingredients. I am sure you have heard it before but I will say it again- only use the wine that is good enough to drink. I have tried this dish with a bottle of homemade wine and it tasted good or so I thought. Good but not memorable enough to make it my “dinner special”. It took me a few years before I came back to this recipe but I tried cooking with a decent bottle of wine. That time I saw the magic of Coq Au Vin, the quality that stood the test of time and kept this dish on people’s tables for generations.
Coq-Au-Vin
Ingredients:

  • Olive Oil- 1 tbsp.
  • Pancetta or Bacon lardons (cubed)- 120 gr/4 oz.
  • Chicken thighs and legs- 8-10 pieces
  • Onion- 1 large
  • Carrots- 2 medium
  • Garlic (chopped)- 1-2 cloves
  • Brandy or Whisky- 1/4 cup
  • Red Wine (your choice)-1/2 bottle
  • Chicken Stock- 1 cup
  • Thyme- 8-10 springs
  • Butter- 1 tbsp.
  • Flour- 1 1/2 tbsp for thickening (could substitute for corn starch for gluten-free version)
  • Mushrooms- 250 gr/ 1/2 pound
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Method:

Preheat oven to 120C/250F.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large Dutch oven. (If you have a cast iron pot it’s perfect for it.) Fry your bacon lardons for 8-10 minutes until browned and remove them to a plate lined with paper towel.

Season your chicken pieces with salt and pepper and brown them in the same pot in batches to avoid overcrowding. Remove to the same plate as bacon. You are not cooking your chicken all the way through, just browning on both sides.

Slice your onions and carrots in medium sized chunks and add them to the pot with salt and pepper, cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer stirring the whole time not allowing it to burn. Add your brandy and scrape all the burned bits to incorporate them into your sauce, now add bacon and chicken with all the juices they collected, pour in your wine, chicken stock and thyme sprigs and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover with a lid and put it in the oven for 40 minutes.

When chicken is no longer pink mix melted butter with flour and stir in the sauce. Slice mushrooms thickly and add to the pot, taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.  Put back in the oven with the lid off for 10-15 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.

Serve Coq Au Vin with mashed potatoes and  crusty French bread and of course, a glass of nice French wine. Bon Appetit!
Note: The recipe is adapted from Ina Garten’s Coq Au Vin.French Coq au Vin. One pot dinner for busy weeknights.

Coq-Au-Vin

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Duck Confit or Souvenirs de Paris

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Musique, ambiance et souvenirs d’un temps qui ne paraît pas si vieux…

What are your most treasured memories with the one you love? I am so fortunate to have many but last Valentine’s Day I chose to re-create the one from our anniversary trip to Paris. Although we have spent the majority of our happy days in much humbler settings I thought it would be fun to reminisce of a few glamour moments in Brad’s and my life together.

Paris shoot by Ophelia Photography
Photo Credit: Lisa Gratton of Ophelia Photography.

We had to start our meal with some bread, pâté and pickles just the way it was served to us in Paris!

Duck Confit

In order to bring the cozy ambience of the French restaurant we spent an evening celebrating 10 years of marriage I decided to duplicate the menu. Sounds ambitious, yes, but to my surprise and delight, it was easy and fun! When we think of French food, we think of  art, sophistication, finesse, in other words- the height of the culinary profession.  All of those qualities are true, nevertheless, there is also pure and earthy peasant food that is just as authentic, if not more, to the French life which is deliciously gratifying and a cinch to make. Duck Confit is one of those dishes that you can only find on the menu of upscale restaurants in North America, while it’s not at all posh in my part of the world.

Duck Confit
Duck and Roasted Potatoes, there is simply no meal more satisfying in the world for my taste. There are several steps to this dish but each of them is simpler than the next!
Ingredients (Romantic Dinner for 2):

  • Duck legs- 2 big and juicy ones
  • Duck fat- 500 gr.
  • Thyme- 3-4 sprigs
  • Bay leaf- 2
  • Juniper Berries- 4 crushed
  • Garlic- 2 cloves split lengthwise
  • Course Salt- 1 tbsp.
  • Potatoes- 4-5 medium

Duck Confit

Method:

The night before. Rub your duck legs with course salt, put your them in a shallow dish with thyme, bay leaf, crushed juniper berries and garlic, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The day of the dinner. Brush the salt off the duck. Don’t skip this step or your duck might be too salty! Put the contents of the shallow dish you prepared the night before into an oven proof dish and cover the duck legs with duck fat. I am not joking, the duck legs should be completely covered, I mean “swimming in the fat” covered! Let me assure you before you run away screaming, you won’t be eating all that fat and the little amount that will end up crisping up the duck is good for you! You see, “confit” (pronounced “confee”) is a french way of cooking and preserving meat in it’s own fat and was used hundreds of years ago before refrigeration was available. I have seen recipes for tomato confit, pumpkin confit, you name it but all of those things are a misuse of the original meaning of the word.

Back to the recipe. Cook the duck in the oven at 250F/120C for 2 hours. At the end of it your meat should be falling off the bone tender and juicy (and will NOT look appetising) but it’s not done yet!

With a pair of tongs take your duck legs out of the dish and pat the excess fat with paper towel. The last step is roasting your duck legs with potatoes. Arrange the duck in a roasting pan on top of sliced garlic cloves with thickly sliced potatoes, brush a bit of that duck fat on your potatoes, trust me nothing works better on them, sprinkle with additional thyme, salt and pepper. Roast at 400F/200C for 30 minutes or until crispy. (Alternatively, you can pre-boil your potatoes to make sure they cook evenly at the same time as duck but I didn’t.)Duck Confit with roasted potatoes
This recipe is a real gem, so simple to execute with very few ingredients. It produced absolutely matchless results – tender and delicate duck meat with crispy full of flavour skin. I have to admit I am glad that the first time I tried this delicacy was in a restaurant and I had no idea how it was cooked. Once I experienced the heavenly taste of old French country I was determined to do anything to have it again. I can’t say enough to urge you to run to your local supermarket, butcher, duck farmer/friend or whatever place you get your food from and buy a few legs (the cheapest and tastiest part of the bird) to roast. You won’t regret. C’est magnifique!

Duck Confit with Roasted Potatoes

Note: The recipe was adapted from “Jamie Does France” by Jamie Oliver

Turkey And Leek Pie

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With American Thanksgiving and Christmas approaching so quickly it seems only prudent to feature a recipe for “what on earth do I do with all the leftover turkey I hate turkey soup” conundrum. Understandable. Who wants to eat the same meal over and over again. Well, I do. I usually like to eat my turkey dinner at least twice after the big meal but then I have to move on. This year I moved on with this pie. I am Canadian we already celebrated Thanksgiving in October-a perfectly placed holiday in the Canadian calendar.

This recipe is easy, tasty and quick even though it has the word “pie” in it. Let me explain how.

Ingredients:

1 tbsp. olive oil
30 gr. butter
800-1000 gr. leftover turkey meat
50 gr. italian pancetta or bacon
3 leeks (white part only)
3 medium carrots
1 cup/250 ml. leftover gravy
1 tbsp. flour
2 sprigs of each rosemary and thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
prepared shortcrust pie pastry (Pillsbury in Canada or Jus Rol in the UK)
1 egg (optional)
Directions:
Preheat your oven to 375 F/190 C or 180 C for a fan oven.
My dear friends, you were probably expecting some amazing pie crust recipe that was handed over to me by my mother, and to her by her mother and so on but instead I am advising you to use a prepared one. I hope you are not too disappointed but the truth is that when I have a container full of turkey leftovers in the refrigerator that scream-“Use me, I am literally on my last breath”, the furthest thought from my mind is to run to the kitchen and engage in a long and tedious process of pastry  making. Trust me, the flavour comes from the filling, not from the crust. There is definitely time for making your own special recipe but not a week after Christmas!
So where were we? Yes, oven.
In a deep frying pan heat a tablespoon of olive oil and your butter over a medium heat, cook your pancetta with the herbs for about 7-10 min and than add your sliced leek and diced carrots. You can definitely use bacon instead of pancetta if it’s too hard to find or pricey. It’s readily available in England and for a good price, so I prefer it. After your vegetable have been cooking for 10 min and leeks softened add your diced turkey and gravy. If you don’t have enough gravy use chicken stock and thicken it with flour. Cook the mixture for about 10 min until heated through and not too runny. Add more flour if it is!  Taste it and season with salt and pepper.
I really recommend using your leftover gravy because this is where your taste is going to come from. You already spend lots of time building flavour and complexity into it while cooking your Christmas dinner-it’s time to reap the benefits.
Take your filling off the heat and cool it before pouring it into the pastry.
While it’s cooling roll out your pastry or take a little break with a glass of wine!
Line the 9″ deep pie plate with the pastry.
When the meat is cooled enough to handle pour into your lined pie plate with the edges hanging over the sides of the plate. Brush the edges of the pastry with a beaten egg. I used to skip that step and my beautiful pies would come undone in the oven. I like my food to look pretty, so it would frustrate me to no end. The egg is your glue here. Don’t skip this step. I beg you. Pinch your sides of the pie really well and brush the top with the rest of your egg. Also, don’t forget to make pretty slits on your pie to make room for the steam to escape or your pie will explode. Maybe.
As I mentioned earlier, I like my food to look pretty. For the pie you see in the picture I used my turkey cookie cutter on the leftover pastry and cut out a couple of turkeys. Then I appliquéd them on the pie and brushed the whole deal with the egg again.
You know how I begged you not to skip an earlier step? Feel free to skip this one. It’s for food nerds only. Skipping of the last step bares no consequences on the deliciousness of that pie.
Bake your pie for 35 min and serve with whatever you like. In my case it was mashed potatoes and green beans.


PS. This recipe was inspired by Jamie Oliver similar recipe but was tweaked so many times that I can almost claim it as my own.