Choc au Zin

Lately I’ve been watching a lot of old episodes of Julia Child and Jacques Pepin and it’s really gotten me in the mood for some French food – already one of my favorite cuisines.

Coq au vin is pretty much the most fantastic French dish there is. Of course, lack of available rooster means a chicken substitute, but still it’s delicious. To put a spin on this classic, I made it with zinfandel instead of a darker red wine and then right at the end tossed in some chocolate to make for a really rich and unexpected sauce.

This isn’t the quickest weekday dinner you’ll make – but the time that goes into it will be well worth it. The recipe below will serve eight and makes dynamite leftovers if you’re a smaller crowd.

Choc au Zin
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes
  • 5 slices thick cut bacon, cut into ¼” pieces
  • 8 chicken thighs
  • ¼ cup + 2 tbsp flour, divided
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 4 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups white zinfandel
  • 8 oz cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • 8 oz frozen pearl onions, thawed
  • 2 tbsp dried thyme
  • 2 tbsp dried basil
  • 2 oz shaved dark chocolate
  • 1 tbsp butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Once hot, place the sweet potatoes directly on the rack and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, toss the bacon into a Dutch oven over medium heat and render out the majority of the fat. Set the bacon aside and drain on a paper towel. Reserve two tablespoons of the bacon fat and keep the rest in the pot. Coat the chicken thighs in flour, salt and pepper, and brown the chicken in batches, skin side down first. Set the browned chicken aside, keeping warm.

Toss in your onion, carrots, and celery with some salt and pepper, stirring occasionally until they are soft. Once the veggies are softened, add the tomato paste and stir for another minute or so until it is very fragrant. Add the stock and wine to the pan and bring everything up to a low simmer.

When you have a nice simmer going, add the chicken back to the pot and stir in the mushrooms, pearl onions, thyme and basil. If the chicken is not fully covered, add another splash of wine until it is. Bring the pot back up to a bubble. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has started to reduce.

Once the chicken is done, remove it from the pot and set in a serving dish. Strain the veggies and put them in the serving dish as well. Bring the sauce up to a full boil. In a small bowl, combine the flour with the reserved baking fat and stir until fully combined. Add the mixture to the sauce and stir until it is fully mixed in. Add the chocolate shavings to the sauce and continue to reduce until it’s at the desired consistency. Pour the sauce over the chicken and veggies when it’s ready.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mash the sweet potatoes after removing the skin. Toss in the butter and the bacon and serve hot.

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