Our take & a traditional recipe

PREP TIME: 25 mins
IDEAL FOR: a special meal, Sunday roast, family

Survived. Just.

I’m talking about… Tim’s 50th Birthday celebrations.

We survived the big one i.e. the ‘village-/-anyone-Tim-knows-since-arghhhh-he-was-born’ party!

(Tim loves a crowd.)

And thanks to some batch cooking we managed to feed everyone too… check out the chicken curry recipe I used.

(You may want to think about batch cooking for any self-isolating… check out my recipe section on recipes for a crowd)

It’s a significant birthday

In fact, it’s a bit of a shock to be here…as much as a shock to him as it is to me.

Ok, it’s more of a shock to me.

I’m not usually bothered about the age numbers.

But I have to admit, this one does seem quite significant.

Tim’s (mostly) fit… a surfer (even if he can hardly walk a few hours after catching a ‘barrel’ or something like that)

And he’s very good at seizing the birthday opportunity – we have to live and breathe it for months.

But will it ever end??!…


It’s the birthday keeps on giving…

I’ve almost forgotten exactly which day his official birthday is on.

All I know is, last weekend was the family-get-together-celebration.


We all met at Grandma’s aka Tim’s Mum.

It was s a pretty relaxed affair and the key to the whole weekend…food.

We’ve spent a lot of time sitting around various family dining tables putting the world to rights.

We all enjoy a meal cooked lovingly by one or many of us (usually, many of us)

And we all love to cook or get involved, that’s half the fun.

So, the main affair was our Coq au vin-ish-dish i.e. it’s not quite the traditional French method.

French Classic

Coq au vin was traditionally rooster in wine (not chicken as we now think).

It was a method to tenderise a tough, old bird in poor households.

It’s the acidity of the wine that works to tenderise the meat.

 The most famous version of coq au vin is made with wine from Burgundy, lardons, mushrooms, and pearl onions.

Our version; Coq au vin-ish-dish

But our version was to leave the chicken whole.

However, we were still inspired by the flavours of a Coq au vin with the wine and onions, lardons, veggies, beurre manié (similar to a roux).

And I can tell you, that it went down very well and looked wonderful on the table.

The 5 key ingredients to traditional Coq au Vin

  • Chicken: cut into pieces
  • Red wine: Burgundy wine, like a pinot noir, côtes du rhône or beaujolais.
  • Lardons: but you can substitute with bacon.
  • Beurre manié (pronunciation = ‘boer manje’ similar to a roux): mixture of equal parts butter and flour used to thicken the stew but kneaded together not cooked.
  • Vegetables: mushrooms, pearl onions and garlic

TIP: Use a red wine that you would like to drink (not a cheap one that makes your taste buds scream) — this really does impact the flavour as this is a main part of the dish.

I decided to include a genuine recipe from Mary Berry so that you can tweak or develop it the way you want (or stick to the real deal).

Coq au vin

Course Main Course
Cuisine French
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 4 people
Cost ££


  • Casserole dish


  • 30 g butter
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 125 g

    streaky bacon rashers, cut into strips

  • 8 small shallots (or onions)
  • 250 g button mushrooms
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 30 g plain flour
  • 300 l chicken stock
  • 600 ml red wine
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • Salt and black pepper to season

  • 2 tbsp

    chopped parsley to garnish

  • 6 chicken legs


  • Separately, in a small pan, reduce the red wine to 300 millilitres.
  • In your large casserole dish, melt the butter with the oil. Then add the chicken and cook for approx 10 until golden brown. Lift out and place on paper towels.
    Next, add the bacon, shallots, carrots and mushrooms and cook over a high heat, stirring, until golden brown.
    Take this mixture out of the pan and place on paper towels to absorb any excess fat.
  • Spoon off any excess fat and add the flour to the pan and cook for approx three to four minutes, stirring constantly, until lightly browned and thickened
    (Your bacon should have given off enough fat for there still to be enough in the pan for this next stage, but if not, add another tablespoon of butter or a glug of oil.)
  • Now, gradually pour in the stock and the wine reduction, stirring until smooth.
  • Return the chicken and the bacon mixture to the casserole. Add the bouquet garni and garlic.
    Season with salt and pepper and bring it all to a boil, cover, and cook in a preheated oven at 180°C/gas mark 4 for 45 minutes or until tender.
  • Add chopped parsley as a garnish and serve.


Inspired by Mary Berry

Do you have a twist on Coq au vin? Drop me a line or leave a comment

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