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Coq au Vin






“Non, rien de rien,
Non, je ne regrette rien,
Ni le bien qu’on m’a fait,
Ni le mal, tout ça m’est bien égal.
Non, rien de rien,
Non, je ne regrette rien,
C’est payé, balayé, oublié,
Je me fous du passé.”

- Je Ne Regrette Rien de Edith Piaf

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Time just flies, cliche as it might sound. Cooking this French dish for dinner yesterday reminds me of the biopic film I watched in 2007, La Môme (La Vie en Rose), starring the inimitable Marion Cotillard.

It was a core-shaking movie as one witnesses with eerie realism Edith Piaf’s joys and delusions in love and life. Her magical romance with Marcel Cerdan ended in tragedy as he died while on the way to see her. Eventually her life ended in ruin as she succumbed to the devilish sweet embraces of alcohol.

Cotillard turned in a fine Oscar-worthy performance; she didn’t just portray her role as Piaf, she was.

There are a few other notable French films that I adore, like Jeux d’Enfants (Child’s Play), Audrey Tautou’s Hors de Prix (Priceless) and L’auberge espagnole (The Spanish Hostel).  

The song of which the lyrics I quote above belongs to Edith Piaf. It’s similar to “My Way” in the sense that the persona reflects on the pleasures and disenchantments of life, and decides that she doesn’t regret anything.

Back to the cooking.

Coq au Vin (or rather, Poulet au Vin) is a dish cooked with the French trinity of onions, celery and carrots, in a homely country stew of herbs, broth and red wine. I normally don’t consider French food very highly, but this dish is a good one, simple and satisfying.

Call me middle-class or ignorant or whatever, but things like caviar, escargots and such appeals as much to me as Mexican fried grasshoppers or Thai fried cockroaches. I think they are disgusting.

I enjoy food, I love ethnic cuisines, and I take pleasure in learning a new culture, but I stop short at eating my favorite animals (in Italy, they even eat rabbit meat and horse meat!) or insects.

French sandwiches made with just vegetables, cheese, fish or chicken is great, though. Not forgetting the Flan Nature ;)

My coq au vin is cooked without bacon, as I don’t eat that.

COQ AU VIN

Ingredients

350gr chicken breast, cut in medium-sized pieces
1 white onion, sliced thinly
4 garlic cloves, cut in half each
Celery leaves and stalk, cut
2 carrots, sliced
300gr white button mushrooms, washed
100ml chicken stock
100ml red wine
Dried parsley (prezzemolo)
Dried oregano (origano)
Black pepper (pepe nero)
Salt
2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tbsp corn starch

Method

1. Heat olive oil and butter in a nonstick pan. When it heats, add the onion and fry them until they become fragrant.

2. Add the chicken pieces and brown them one side for around 5 minutes before flipping over and browning them on the other side.

3. Add the celery and carrots and cook for 3 minutes. Put in the garlic cloves, sprinkle some salt and pepper and the dried herbs. Stir them to mix the ingredients. Pour in the chicken broth and red wine. Cover and bring to a slow simmer for around 15 minutes.

4. Scoop out the chicken and onions from the pan to a bowl. Cook the mushrooms in the wine broth mixture for 5 minutes until they become softer and browned. Put back in the chicken and onions and stir.

5. To thicken the sauce, add corn starch to the wine broth and let the Coq au Vin cook on high heat.

6. Garnish with fresh celery or parsley leaves. Serve with white rice or bread (baguette, anyone?).


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