Coq au Vin Nouveau

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At the risk of committing heresy, we present this quick and easy update to the venerable Burgundian (and very umami) classic that traditionally calls for bacon, red wine, and a tough old rooster. We have lightened it up with lean smoked ham and your choice of white wine; good matches, we think, for the lighter flavor of thighs from a younger chicken. Make it a day ahead and gently reheat it for even more umami and better-developed flavor. Keep a loaf of good French bread nearby, as the gravy is irresistible to sop up.

 

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces lean smoked ham, diced medium
  • 8 skinless chicken thighs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, or Wondra
  • 1 medium onion, diced medium
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 1 cup cremini or button mushroom slices, 1/4-inch thick (1/3 to 1/2 pound)
  • 1 cup fruity white wine such as sauvignon blanc
  • 1 (14-ounce) can low-fat chicken broth
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
     

Instructions

1. Choose a heavy Dutch oven or skillet with a tight-fitting cover, large enough to fit the chicken in no more than two layers plus the vegetables. In this pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil, add the ham and sauté until browned all over. Remove and reserve the ham, leaving as much of the oil in the pan as you can.
 
2. Liberally season the pieces of chicken with salt and pepper and dredge them in the flour. Add the remaining oil to pan. When the oil is hot, sear the pieces of chicken thoroughly on all sides until well browned. Take care not to scorch the flour coating, but do let it get brown. Do this in batches. Reserve the chicken with the ham.
 
3. Return pan to the burner set to medium. Add the onion, garlic, shallots, and mushrooms, and sauté for 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until tender and fragrant. Add the wine, chicken broth, carrots, celery, and thyme, and let the pan come to a boil. Add the reserved chicken and ham. Cover the pot and bring to a simmer. Cook for 45 to 50 minutes, until the chicken is very tender and the sauce has thickened from the flour. Taste and correct seasoning with salt and pepper.
 
4. Arrange chicken pieces and vegetables on a warmed platter, and cover with the sauce. Serve with rice, noodles, or roasted potatoes.
 
* * *
From The Fifth Taste: Cooking with Umami by Anna Kasabian and David Kasabian (Universe, 2005). © 2005 Anna Kasabian and David Kasabian. Used with permission.
Cook time: 
Yield: 
Serves 4 for dinner

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