Baby, it’s cold outside and ‘tis the season to cozy up. One of the best cold weather comforters is a hearty bowl of steamy stew. I recently made a coq au vin and served it with egg noodles. It’s the French version of chicken noodle soup. I not only wanted to celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau with this dish but I also wanted to help soothe the long, dark, harsh, bitter cold days that are upon us. The aroma created by the fusion of thyme, garlic, onions, carrots and chicken simmering in a savory broth of burgundy wine is like an invisible whisper to the psyche that triggers feel-good memories with each whiff. From just the smell of the stew brewing, feelings of satisfaction are produced. The brain releases oxytocin, the cuddle hormone in anticipation of getting our needs met, in this case, the need to be warm and comforted. Of our five senses, smell is the most emotionally powerful and the most elusive. It cannot be seen, tasted, felt, or touched, rather, it sends its messages to the limbic system, a mysterious part of the brain that arouses emotions and feelings instead of thoughts. Smell’s connection to seduction is natural and innate. So in cooking coq of vin with the intention of soothing, it’s good to understand that the reminiscence of this healing soup generates a smell that is synonymous with tenderness and warm feelings of trust. Drawn to the scent, one is drawn to the person preparing the food. “Lured by sensations that cannot be expressed in words, one is tempted to suspend natural thought and follow the lead of emotion” says Elaine Sciolino author of La Seduction about the power of a scent. The association of the cook to the meal produces feelings that linger long after the coq au vin is gone. Its allure is a manipulation of time. Subtle, yet this is one of the relationship connections between cooking and seduction. Allow the bitter cold to heat up your kitchen with irresistible aromas powerful enough to comfort and heal and delicious enough to more than satisfy.
Coq au Vin chez L’Amour
This recipe is inspired by the classic ingredients for coq au vin. French cuisine is often prepared with wine and while at the Food Network open cast for Season 11 of Food Network Star I met a wine expert. She and I struck a conversation while we waited for our number to be called. Based on her wine pairing expertise she gave me a list of recommendations for a burgundy after I shared with her that was preparing Coq au Vin. Unfortunately, the two wine shops that I visited did not have her recommendations in stock (list below); however, they recognized the value of the Josephine DuBois burgundy on the list, apologized for not having it and offered Le Bon Viveur Vin de Bourgogne instead. I couldn’t argue with a wine that calls for living a good life. I’ll drink, cook, and seduce to that.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 slices Black Forest bacon
- 2 ½ pounds chicken thighs
- Spices: garlic powder, onion powder, creole blend, dried thyme
- 1 medium white onion, sliced
- 1 pound Parisian Carrots (Carottes Parisiennes), Trader Joe’s freezer
- 3 cubes crushed garlic (Dorot)
- ¼ cup Cognac
- ½ bottle burgundy wine (Le Bon Viveur Vin de Bourgogne)
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 10 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature, divided
- 1 ½ tablespoons flour
- ½ pound frozen pearl onions
- ½ pound cremini mushrooms, stems removed
1 package egg noodles, prepare separately according to package instructions
Preheat oven to 250 degrees
Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add bacon and cook until lightly browned. Remove bacon.
Meanwhile season the chicken on both sides with spices. Brown the chicken pieces in batches in a single layer, turning to brown evenly. Remove the chicken and set aside.
Add the carrots and onions to the pan and cook until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for a minute. Add the Cognac and put the bacon and chicken in the pot. Add the wine, chicken broth and thyme and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot and place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on top of the stove.
Mash 1 tablespoon of butter and the flour together and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions. In a medium saute pan, add the remaining butter and cook the mushrooms until brown. Add to the stew. Bring the stew to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes. Serve hot.
Served with: I paired this serving with Trader Joe’s Camebert Cheese and Cranberry Sauce Fillo Bites instead of a traditional French baguette. It was a new product in Trader Joe’s freezer section and I’m always game for sampling new products. I also didn’t have a dessert so I hoped this fillo bite would satisfy both the sweet and bread craving that comes with dinner. They served the purpose well.
Burgundy Wine Recommendations
- Joseph Drouhin
- Josephine DuBois
- Louis Jadot
- Louis Latour