In October I visited the Hiawatha National Forest in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and spent a weekend at The Milkweed Inn, a unique bed & dinner run by Iliana Reagan and her wife Anna. At breakfast on Sunday morning, Iliana gave me an advance copy of her new book “Fieldwork”. As Iliana shares the story of growing up in her parents home on a farm in central Indiana, tales of her Grandmothers restaurant and the recipes she was raised on shine through.
I was inspired by several references to a duck soup, Czarnina. The idea of using duck blood to thicken a stock made an impression on me and I applied the technique in this dish.
Last night we celebrated my wife Jessica’s 63rd birthday. All 3 of our daughters were home, along with 50 close friends. Special occasions require extra effort. Coq au Vin was the answer.
First stop Tony Iacono, East Hampton’s chicken man. I ordered 5, 4-5lb chickens and 2 cups of blood. He told me in order to capture the blood I’d have to join him at 6am, before the sunrise, on Wednesday morning as he works alone and saves no blood. I also was instructed to bring a cup of red wine vinegar for stabilization. Tony’s a nice man. Illiana Regan’s inspiration to use chicken blood in a Coq au Vin allowed 30 minutes in the last hour of darkness under a single light bulb over a stainless steel butcher sink with a guy I can now call a better friend.
The dish is a work in progress. Mansell (27), daughter #2 is engaged to be married to Henry Beveridge who comes from a large Nashville family. For her wedding party next September, Mansell has wisely requested Coq au Vin. In order to make the recipe mine, I’m testing. Last nights version reduced the volume of wine by half, replacing with apple cider from the Milkpail, our local apple farmers, Iacono chicken blood, carrots from my garden, pearl onions, and shiitake mushrooms.
I gave the chicken livers to Maria, Estia’s dish-washing gardener, that made her happy. Using a suggestion from Iliana Regan’s book “Fieldwork” made me happy, and the deep ruby color of the final dish made Mansell happy.
Recipe serves 50
Download PDF for printing
- 5 chickens, 4-5lb each
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sea salt
- 1 lb salted butter
- 4 dozen small-medium carrots
- 6 cups pearl onions
- 1 case shiitake mushrooms (6 cups sliced)
- 2 quarts apple cider
- 1 quart red wine (Malbec)
- 3 cups mirepoix (for stock)
- 1 cup brandy
- 6 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 bunch fresh thyme
- 12 fresh bay leaf
Recipe, Day 1:
Debone 5, 4 to 5lb chickens and cut breast pieces in half.
Place bones in two, 6 inch deep, full size hotel pans.
Fill 3/4 of the way with water, top with 3 cups of mirepoix and season with salt & pepper. Place in a 350 degree oven and roast for 2 hours, then strain the stock.
Place three, 10 inch sauté pans on the stove top over medium flame.
Add 4 tablespoons of butter to each pan.
Toss chicken pieces in a bowl with flour & salt, then place the coated chicken in the melted butter. Fill each pan, turn the chicken pieces after 3 minutes (once browned) then brown side 2, then add 2-3 tablespoons of brandy to each pan. Coat each piece, then transfer the chicken pieces to roasting pans. Repeat until all of the chicken has been browned.
In a sauce pot combine 1 quart red wine, 2 quarts apple cider, 2 quarts chicken stock & 6 tablespoons tomato paste. Simmer over medium heat until reduced by 1/4 about 40 minutes.
Pour the prepared mixture (stock) over the chicken pieces and place in refrigeration over night.
Reserve all remaining stock for day 2.
Recipe, Day 2:
1 – Remove as much chicken fat as possible.
2 – Separate the stock from the bones.
3 – In a sauce pot, combine the stock with remaining stock and the blood/vinegar mixture (optional). Set on medium heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
4 – Slice one case of shiitake mushrooms, removing stems first. Place sliced mushrooms in a roasting pan.
5 – Dice 2 heads of garlic, sprinkle over mushrooms.
6 – Melt 1/2 cup of butter, pour over garlic & mushrooms. Then add 1/2 cup of olive oil.
7 – Place this roasting pan in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, then stir and roast for 10 more minutes.
8 – Place another larger sauce pot on the stove top and add 1 quart of water, bring to a simmer over medium heat.
9 – Clean & cut carrots to thumb size pieces. Add cut carrots to the water.
10 – Add pearl onions to the carrots in the simmering water. After 5 minutes drain the water off, pour the roasted mushrooms into the sauce pan and add the hot stock. Pour this mixture over the chickens, add thyme & bay leaf, cover with foil and place in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour.
Serve with mashed potatoes.