This weekend we had a friend and her daughter over for dinner. I wanted to make something that was nice enough for an adult dinner party, but also kid friendly for the three 7-year olds in attendance. My girls love chicken legs, so I decided to make a quick and easy coq au vin. It turned out to be a great choice. The wine sauce made the dish seem rich and elegant for the parents, while the chicken legs remained crispy on all but one small side and therefore acceptable for the younger girls. Served with potato squares baked in olive oil with herbs and quickly sautéed greens in olive oil with garlic, it turned out to be a tasty and nutritious meal for all.
Quick and Easy Coq Au Vin
1 whole chicken cut up (or more – I used two chicken breasts, three legs, and three thighs)
3 Tbl flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 cup red or white wine
7 or 8 whole garlic cloves
Water if needed
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Skin chicken thighs and breasts. Cut each breast in half. I also de-bone the breasts, but this isn’t necessary. Combine the flour, salt, pepper and oregano in a flat dish. Lightly coat each piece of chicken in the flour mixture. Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet that is also oven proof*. Brown each piece of chicken. If your skillet isn’t large enough to hold all the chicken at once without crowding the pan, do this in two batches.
Once each piece of chicken is browned, place all of it in your pan and then add the garlic cloves and wine. Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked. Do not turn the chicken while baking if you want it to remain crispy. Check the dish in the oven periodically to make sure you have enough liquid in the pan. If the wine reduces too much, just add a little water or chicken broth.
When the chicken is finished, each piece should be golden brown on top and the wine sauce should be rich and creamy underneath. Serve either with the gravy (for the adults) and without (for the kids).
Cooking tip: The flour that was used to coat the chicken, along with the olive oil and butter used at the beginning, provide enough starch to turn the liquids into a glossy gravy. Also, baking meat with whole garlic is great if you’d like to be able to spread it on the meat or any accompanying bread.
* If you do not have an oven-proof skillet large enough to hold all the chicken, you can substitute a baking dish. I like to use a large cast iron pan that I bought at Ace Hardware for $30. It’s probably one of the cheapest pans I have, and also the best.