As I write this, it’s doing that thing again where it snows and then melts immediately. It feels warm outside (compared to this time last month) and yet that white stuff keeps falling. If you’re like me, this weather is throwing off everything in your life-- particularly your eating habits. Do I want a hearty stew? A nice thick roast? Or do I satisfy the cravings for kale salad and avocados on everything? Is it a red wine kind of night or are we ready for rose?! IPA or Porter?!? I just don’t know anymore...
As we make this transition from the snowiest winter on record to what is sure to be a glorious spring, my time in the kitchen has been divided between heavy and light fare and my body is getting really ticked-off. In an attempt to find some stability, I’ve begun to experiment with transitional foods-- lighter meals with a hearty twist. Oh, and I’m drinking a lot of wine. Like, a lot.
The recipe below was inspired by-- no joke-- a single sip of the Lasyrah from Frédéric Cossard.
Cossard has been making elegant, Natural Wines since 1996. With humble beginnings in a rented facility in Saint Romain, Burgundy, Cossard has made a name for himself as a terroir-driven vintner who allows the grapes and the land to express themselves, rather than intervening in the process in an attempt to manufacture “desirable qualities”. One example of his commitment to Natural Winemaking is this Syrah: grown in Vaison-la-Romaine in the Côtes du Rhône, harvested by hand and trucked (without adding sulfites as a preservative) to his facility in Saint Romain, Burgundy. Through this process he is able to express the famous soils of France’s south while carefully attending to this southern varietal in the heart of Burgundy.
The nose is bright and fresh, with red raspberry and ripe cherry notes. The body is a medium-light, smooth and excitingly sour. And this finish-- this is where things got interesting: herbal with tones of sage and lavender and a hint of spice.
As I let this singler sip linger, I tried to get back to work but was distracted by the flavors-- I instantly thought about Coq au Vin and couldn’t stop salivating. Long story short, I went home with the bottle and cooked up this spring-time version of a warming winter dish. The sauce is meant to emulate the flavors of traditional Coq au Vin, while grilling the chicken with some spring veggies lightens up the dish. Give it a try, and remember that when you’re cooking with wine you want to use something you’d serve to guests!
Coq au Vin a la Cossard
- 1 x large chicken, cut into 8 joints
- Dry Rub: Sea Salt, Coarse Black Pepper, Herbs de Provence
- 4 pieces Thick Cut Bacon
- 2-3 Shallots
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- Shitake and Oyster mushrooms, about half a cup of each
- 1 Bottle Syrah or Rhone blend
- ¼ cup Brandy
- * ½ cup Chicken Stock
- Olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
Pat dry and rub the chicken pieces thoroughly with the spice mix. Set aside.
Using fresh oil in your pan, saute the bacon until browned and set aside. Brown the mushrooms in the bacon renderings over a medium-high heat and remove (toss with the bacon bits). Next, sweat the shallots (adding a little oil if needed) and deglaze the pan with the brandy. Lower the heat, toss in the sprigs of thyme and bay leaves and season with freshly milled pepper and a pinch of salt. Pour in the wine, add the stock and reintroduce the bacon and mushrooms to the mix. Put a lid on the pot. Simmer gently for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan.
This is a good time to light the grill!
Once you’ve got a good flavor in the pot and you’re satisfied with the balance of acidity, earthiness and spice, remove and toss the thyme and bay leaves, then strain out the mushrooms, bacon and shallots (save these as a great addition to stock or soup!)
Now pour the liquid back in the pan and bring it to a fast boil to reduce it by about one third, whisking all the time until the sauce has thickened.
Once you’ve grilled the chicken, serve it hot with the sauce drizzled generously on top. Depending on the day this could be served with grilled asparagus and baked sweet potato, or a nice asparagus risotto if you’re into something heartier.