Cooking with Joy: Coq Au Vin

Let's me start with this warning: I am not a chef. Unlike my husband, I cannot look at a row of ingredients and just magically know what to do with them. I am not magic. I can, however, follow directions - hence my love of cookbooks.

And because cookbooks are books to, and because I get to determine what I want to write about (that's the beauty of writing for myself), I decided to start documenting my kitchen forays.

Where better to start than with The Joy of Cooking? I actually wrote a research paper on the cookbook. Written by Irma Rombauer, Joy of Cooking was the first cookbook to try to make cooking accessible. Think of that blond bimbo you see on Food Network when you accidentally turn on Semi-Homemade with Sandre Lee. Yep, Rombauer was the Sandra Lee of her time, but I'm not talking about looks. No, instead, Rombauer looked to pre-made ingredients - like canned soup - for her recipes. Simplify, simplify, simplify. I like that.

Accompanying these recipes, of course, is the narrative that fans of Joy are so familiar with. Or are we? In fact, the narrative bits (and the recipes, too, for that matter) from one edition to the next are vastly different, depending on which editor's red pen and which family member's oversight the edition was subject to. So don't assume that your 75th anniversary edition (which is the one I have) is the same as your mother's 1960s edition. It's not.

Ok, now that I've gotten that off my chest, I'll turn to coq au vin. Cock in wine. Who doesn't love that? Essentially, this is browned chicken, cooked to doneness in a red wine soup of sorts, and then the red wine soup is reduced to a gooey red wine sauce with mushrooms that gets poured over the chicken. And if you're like me and you love little tiny pasta bits, you probably would pour it over chicken on top of cous cous. Look how simple!

Step 1: Pour red wine. This will ultimately
come in handy for the cooking parts, too.

Step 2: Brown those chicken parts. In bacon grease.

Step 3: Remove chicks and brown veggies.
We used breasts, which meant adding
oil here, but if you used thighs or
parts with skin, you should be ok.
You can always add more bacon, too.

Step 4: Add the saucey bits.
Then add chicken bits and bacon bits.
Simmer until chicken bits are cooked through.

Step 5: Meantime, brown some mushrooms.
Save that mushroom juice.

Step 6 (not pictured): Remove chicken bits.
Add mushroom and precious mushroom juice to pot.
Reduce saucey bits until thick.

Step 7: Place chicks on a lovely bed of cous cous.
Pour sauce over chicks.
Eat! Enjoy!
And also drink more wine.

Tada! I made coq au vin, and I didn't even burn anything. I'd always thought of this as an extremely complex dish (When my dad makes it, he lights things on fire. On purpose.), but thanks to good ol' Irma and a solid Le Creuset dutch oven, I managed to pull it off. Speaking of which, that Le Creuset stuff is speeeeeensivo, but totally worth it. Cleaning up was a breeze.


  1. Mmmm wow that does look delicious. I should give this recipe another try. I made it once years ago and it didn't turn out so well . . .

  2. Brenna - Thanks! It was actually pretty good, much to my surprise.

    Trish - It's really not as hard as I thought it would be. Especially because this recipe does not call for lighting anything on fire intentionally.

  3. I want a Dutch oven but I cook so infrequently anything that would require such a thing that I just won't bother getting one. I just want it because it's soo cool.

    I loved this post. I love food and books. I can't say I'll make the recipe since I'm a vegetarian, but your choice is a great example of something that sounds intimidating but because of the Joy of Cooking, isn't. I used to pour over my mom's JoC as a kid and teen. It's still my favourite because of all the info it has and the diagrams. I always found it fascinating and I can still recall what it smelled and felt like. (i.e., heaven).

    I don't really use cookbooks much because I make stuff up, but I did follow a recipe on Sunday from Joanne Harris's French Kitchen cookbook. It was a delicious cauliflower soup, garnished with chives and brie. Yum. I'll be stealing one of her recipes soon to make for my food in fiction post. Can you guess what it is?

    PS. You need a pic of the book, too! :)


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