When it comes to French dinner dishes, Julia Child’s coq au vin recipe is a classic. Translated from French, Coq au vin means ‘cock (chicken) in wine’ and is a simple dish of chicken braised with wine, bacon, mushrooms, and garlic. It’s really simple to make, but it does take some time. Coq au vin is perfect for a sunday supper, or an impressive casserole dish to serve to friends for a dinner party. Ready to try it? Simply hit the “jump to” recipe button to get started, or scroll through below for some helpful cooking tips.
Julia Child’s Coq Au Vin
I’m headed to France this summer, so in preparation (and anticipation!), I decided to dust off a vintage cook book my mom found for me at a garage sale and give Julia Child’s coq au vin a try. I recruited my husband Pete to help by taking photos each step of the way as I made this dinner classic.
It’s quite a treasured find, The French Chef Cookbook by Julia Child. One of Julia’s originals published in the 1960s, it even has show notes for each of the show episodes where the recipes were featured. There’s thumb prints and sauce stains on some of the pages, all trademarks of a cookbook that was well used and loved.
Your Vintage Cookbook Is In Appreciative Hands
The title pages have a sticker indicating that it’s from the cookbook collection of Doris Howe Smith, who passed away in 1992. On the sticker, there’s a dedication explaining that Doris appreciated good food and loved to read. She also loved to discuss the recipes she found. So, if you’re part of Doris’ family, or this reminds you of your own mother or grandmother, know that your cherished cookbooks and recipes live on.
Julia Child’s Coq Au Vin Recipe Step-By-Step
Now, on to Julia Child’s Coq Au Vin. Though it takes a little time, think of each step as a way of adding more flavor. There’s a handful of key ingredients in coq au vin (bacon, onions, mushrooms, butter, and red wine), that create a delicious flavor when layered together one at a time. The only ingredient I added that wasn’t in the original recipe was carrots, for their added texture and color.
Make This Too! Another French classic: Easy Beef Bouruignon Recipe
What Is The Best Wine To Use For Making Coq Au Vin?
Coq au vin was traditionally a rustic farmer’s dish made with rooster (coq), and so wine was used to tenderize the meat. Julia Child’s coq au vin recipe in the book suggested using a red wine like a Burgundy or a Chianti. A Burgundy is typically a pinot noir, which is light and acidic, perfect for cooking. Personally, I like to use a Merlot. It is less softer and less acidic than a pinot noir. And a merlot’s flavor profiles of plum and pomegranate gives a nice earthy flavor to the coq au vin. But truly, use any red wine you enjoy drinking.
You could also try a dry white wine such as a chardonnay or sauvignon blanc. White wine is perfect for making coq au vin in the spring or summer when you want a lighter flavored dish. If you make coq a vin with white wine, also swap out the beef stock for chicken stock.
What Is Traditionally Servied With Coq Au Vin?
How To Make Coq Au Vin
I have Julia Child’s Coq Au Vin recipe available below to print, but just wanted to show you some of the layered steps. First, gather together all the ingredients you’ll need:
INGREDIENTS FOR COQ A VIN
- 2 to 3 lbs chicken legs
- red wine
- beef stock
- tomato paste
- bay leaf
- boiler onions
- baby carrots
- cooking oil
- salt and pepper
Next, sauté bacon in a large skillet or casserole. Once it’s lightly browned, remove the bacon and place it on a side dish, but leave the fat in the pan (you gotta love Julia).
In the same pan, brown the chicken in the bacon fat and season with salt and pepper. Once the chicken is browned on all sides, add the bacon back to the pan, cover, and cook slowly for 10 minutes, turning the chicken only once.
Then, add the wine, beef stock, tomato paste, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf. Bring it to a simmer and let it cook for an additional 30 minutes.
While the chicken is cooking, it’s time took your mushrooms, onions, and carrots. This is an extra step, but trust me it is worth it.
TIP: Use Boiler Onions
One other little thing I did differently — used boiler onions. They’re easier to peel than pearl onions (those you’d have to boil with the skin on), and they cooked a bit faster than small white onions. You’ll flash boil them, and then use the same pot and water to cook the carrots. Then, instead of cooking the onions separately from the mushrooms and butter, I added them all to one sauté pan.
(Note: Julia threw whole pearl onions into the boiling water skin and all, and then peeled them when they were hot. To save a wee bit of time, and my tender uncalloused fingertips, I trimmed and peeled boiler onions before boiling them. This seemed to work just fine. Julia must have had some tough onions!)
Drop onions into boiling water and cook for one minute. Remove from heat and scoop out onions with a slotted spoon, then add carrots to the same hot water. Place it back on heat and bring to a boil for three to five minutes until carrots are tender, but still crunchy. Drain and set carrots aside.
Next, heat oil in a frying pan and toss onions for several minutes until lightly browned
Then add mushrooms and one tablespoon of butter to the pan with onions and sauté until browned.
When chicken is done, remove the chicken using a slotted spoon and set it aside. (It is best to use a slotted spoon as opposed to tongs as the chicken is pretty fall-off-the-bone tender). Set the chicken aside so that you can thicken up the sauce, then you’ll add it all back to the same pan, including the onions, carrots, and mushrooms.
Skim off the fat, and boil down the liquid to concentrate flavor. Beat butter and flower into the sauce using a whisk to thicken up the sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Then, add chicken, mushrooms, onions, and carrots all into the same sauté pan with the sauce. Stir together to make sure all the ingredients are coated with the wine sauce. Let cook on low heat for 3-5 minutes.
Garnish the top of the dish with fresh thyme or parsley. You can then (carefully) bring the whole dish in the pan or casserole for serving.
Goes great with a side salad, some French bread, and of course a bottle of red wine! See the full recipe below.
Coq Au Vin
Julia Child's recipe for Coq Au Vin. An easy rustic French dish of chicken braised with wine, bacon, mushrooms, and garlic.
- 2 to 3 lbs chicken legs
- 3 cups red wine
- 1 to 2 cups beef stock
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1/4 tsp thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 15 to 20 boiler onions, peeled
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, washed and trimmed
- 1 bunch of baby carrots (about a cup)
- 3 Tbsp softened butter
- 3 Tbsp flour
- 4 ounces of bacon
- cooking oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Saute bacon in a casserole dish or skillet (this is what you'll end up serving in)
- When the bacon is lightly browned, remove and add to side dish leaving the fat in the pan.
- Dry the chicken thoroughly with a towel. Then, brown on all sides in the hot bacon fat. Season with salt and pepper, then return bacon to the pan. Cover and cook slowly for 10 minutes, turning the chicken once.
- Next, pour wine into pan and add just enough beef stock to cover the chicken. Stir in tomato paste, garlic, and herbs. Bring to a simmer and then cover and simmer slowly for about 30 minutes or until chicken is tender when pierced with a fork.
- While the chicken is cooking, drop onions into boiling water and cook for one minute. Remove from heat and scoop out onions with a slotted spoon, then add carrots to the same hot water. Place it back on heat and bring to a boil for three to five minutes until carrots are tender, but still crunchy. Drain and set carrots aside.
- Next, heat oil in a frying pan and toss onions for several minutes until lightly browned.
- Add mushrooms and 1 Tbsp of butter to pan with onions and sauté until browned.
- When chicken is done, remove the chicken using a slotted spoon and set it aside. Skim off the fat, and boil down the liquid to concentrate flavor. Beat butter and flower into the sauce using a wire whisk to thicken up the sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Then, add chicken, mushrooms, onions, and carrots all into the same sauté pan with the sauce. Garnish with fresh thyme or parsley and serve.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 954Total Fat: 42gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 25gCholesterol: 458mgSodium: 776mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 4gSugar: 13gProtein: 92g
Nutrition information provided is only an estimate.
Want to Julia Child’s Coq Au Vin recipe? Pin it 🙂
Originally Published May 29, 2015
Rick Griffin says
Great post! …except when I first glanced at the picture of you slicing the onion, I thought you were decapitating a mouse:) Can’t wait to hear about your trip to France. We’re headed to Paris in August!
Rachelle Lucas says
lol! Mouse onions. 😉
Christina Thomas says
I love the story of this cookbook! So cool to find such a treasure in a garage sale. Yes, food indeed can make you dream of travel which is why I love your site. I am definitely trying this recipe and dreaming of my next trip to France someday soon. Salut!
Rachelle Lucas says
Isn’t it a neat story? I love that they did that with her cookbooks. I always wonder about the backstory of a used book. 😉
Susan Nelson says
Have a couple questions … I have never heard of boiler onions … are they just a smaller type onion? Also, did you use Bordeaux wine in this recipe … I notice you serve it with this dish, but wasn’t sure if that was just to drink or if you actually used it in the recipe. I am anxious to try this … thanks for sharing.
Rachelle Lucas says
They’re typically just a smaller onion. Pearl onions would work too, or if you find smaller yellow onions (like the size of a small mandarin orange), that would be fine as well. Enjoy the recipe! It’s one of my favorites.
I’m in France right now and want to cook a traditional meal for my host. This looks amazing and simple enough. Thank you for the recipe!!
This is as classic as it gets! I can smell it from here 🙂
Mary Ellen says
I still have all Julia Child’s cookbooks. Some are even autographed by Julia and her husband.
Love them and have used them for 45 years.
Rachelle Lucas says
Aren’t they wonderful? When I read them, I hear her voice. 🙂