This iconic French dish is a lavish marriage of chicken and red wine, along with a classic mirepoix, bacon, mushrooms, and herbs. It's a hearty, satisfying meal to share with loved ones—rustic French cooking at its best! (Note: Plan ahead for at least 6 hours of marinating.)
Reduce wine: In a large saucepan, add the wines. Bring to a simmer and reduce by half, at a very low temperature, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool completely in the fridge, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, break down the chicken: First, slice away the leg and thigh from each side, including the “oysters” (the small, round pieces of meat nestled on each side of the backbone). Next, find the joint between the leg and thigh; slice through the joint and cut the leg and thigh into separate pieces. Chop off the cartilaginous ends of the drumsticks and discard. Trim the tips of the wings, then cut down either side of the backbone and remove. Discard the wingtips and backbone, or save for stock. Lay the knife along the center of the breastbone; whack the back of the knife with your free hand to split, then slice the breasts into two pieces. Cut each breast in half crosswise, for a total of 8 pieces. Marinate chicken: Transfer chicken pieces to a large bowl or container; add the reduced wine. Place in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 6 hours and up to overnight.
After at least 6 hours of marinating, brown the chicken: Preheat oven to 325 F. Remove chicken from the marinade, reserving the marinade. Pat chicken dry with paper towels; then season with salt and pepper and lightly dredge in flour. In large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. When butter is foamy, add chicken, skin side down, in an even layer; then distribute 1 more tablespoon of butter around the pot. Turn heat to high and sear for 3–4 minutes. When the skin is nicely seared, sprinkle additional flour over the chicken to aid browning, and add 2 more tablespoons of butter. Use a meat fork to flip the chicken and sear for another 3–4 minutes on the second side.
Sweat vegetables: In a large skillet over medium-low heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Meanwhile, cut celery into 1-inch pieces on a bias; cut any large cloves of garlic in half; cut carrots into rough 1-inch pieces. When butter is foamy, add celery, mushrooms, garlic, carrots, and pearl onions; sweat, tossing occasionally, 2 minutes. Meanwhile, cut bacon into ½-inch thick chunks; add to skillet and toss to combine. Stir tomato paste into the vegetables, then season with a pinch of salt and several grinds of white pepper.
Braise: Add 1 cup of red wine marinade to the vegetables; pour the remaining marinade over the chicken. Gently shake the pot to ensure the chicken is not sticking. Allow vegetables to absorb the wine for 1 minute; then stir and add to the chicken. Make a spice and herb sachet: Place cracked white pepper, coriander seed, parsley, thyme, and bay leaf in the middle of a square of cheesecloth. Make a bundle, tie with twine, and trim the excess cheesecloth; place sachet into the pot. Bring to a simmer; then place in the oven, uncovered, and braise for 30 minutes. (Total braising time will be 50 minutes.)
After 30 minutes, remove Coq au Vin from oven. Remove and set aside the 4 breast pieces. (Optional: Remove bones for easier eating.) Leave the leg and thigh pieces, as they take longer to cook. Add warm chicken stock; then return pot to oven to continue braising until the meat is tender, 10–20 more minutes.
Use tongs and a spider strainer to pull chicken pieces from the pot, leaving the sauce behind; arrange on a serving platter. Remove and discard sachet. Next, remove vegetables and bacon from the pot, leaving only the sauce behind, and arrange around the chicken. Reduce sauce: Place a chinois or fine-mesh strainer over a large saucepan; strain the sauce into it, pressing it through with the back of a ladle to extract all the liquid. Bring sauce a boil over high heat; then reduce heat to medium and simmer to reduce by ⅓, 6–8 minutes. As the sauce simmers, use a spoon or ladle to gently skim off any fat or impurities that rise to the top. When sauce has nearly finished reducing, season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Mix cornstarch and water to make a slurry; add to the sauce to thicken and whisk well to combine. Simmer for 5 more minutes.
Spoon sauce over Coq au Vin. Garnish with parsley and serve. (Serve Coq au Vin with rice, polenta, potatoes, or gnocchi.)