How would you like to save $2,000 or so? And, in the process have an extraordinary meal?

Coq Au Vin comes in a couple of versions. There are good renditions, which you probably have consumed with graciousness: a lovely chicken dish you may have said to yourself. And then there are the exceptional versions, where Coq Au Vin transcends to unbelievable satisfaction: my God, how did the chef do that?

To taste the exceptional, you have two options.

One, you grab the next flight to Paris, cab in from DeGaulle, and get an appropriately located hotel room for two nights. I like the 6th Arrondisment, because nestled off Boulevard St-Germain are a dozen places to find the exceptional. And there are adjoining coffee and pastry shops where you complete an ideal day and night.

Two, and here’s how to save that money, execute the recipes below for Gordon Ramsey’s Coq Au Vin adorned with pearl onions and tarragon emulsion. This combination of flavors, textures, colors, and aromas is exceptional. Your culinary confidence will bump a level or ten when you have cooked and consumed.

Now for the rest of the story. Yes, I said I’d save you money. I never said anything about time. This recipe calls for marinating overnight, and you really need to follow that step for chicken that is tender beyond your experience. The tarragon emulsion is optional, even according to Ramsay, but do not skip the pearl onions. Their physical beauty and sweet taste are essential to the “exceptionalness” of this dish.

There are, in this recipe, a number of ingredients including herbs and veal stock. In an earlier blog about this book, Maze, I noted that Ramsey’s great art is his combining several good things into one wonderful dish. So, visit your local mega-mart, and buy the herbs and stock. Or, purchase this book, and use his recipe to produce your own stock. This Coq Au Vin is a weekend project, one that will make Monday very tolerable.




Coq Au Vin

Yield: serves 6 as a main course


6 chicken legs
1 cup (200g) diced bacon trimmings
6 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 leek, trimmed and roughly chopped
1 bottle (750ml)of red wine
3- 4 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt and black pepper
1 head of garlic, halved horizontally
few thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon white peppercorns
5tablespoons brandy
5 tablespoons port
splash of sherry vinegar
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups veal stock

To Serve:

1/2 cup diced bacon
Braised pearl onions

tarragon emulsion

thyme sprigs, optional
wafer thin slices of toasted white bread, optional


Put the chicken legs, bacon, and vegetables into a large bowl and pour over the red one cover and let marinate in refrigerator overnight.

Strain off the wine and reserve it for later use. Set the vegetables and bacon aside. Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels. Heat the olive oil in a large cast-iron casserole. Season the chicken legs with salt and pepper and pan-fry for 2-3 minutes on each side until browned. Remove from the casserole and set aside.

Add a little more oil to the casserole, if necessary, and add the vegetables and bacon. Sweat for 8 to 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft. Add the garlic, thyme, bay leaf, peppercorns and fry for a couple more minutes.

Deglaze the casserole with the brandy poured sherry vinegar. Let bubble until reduced to a sticky glaze. Pour in the stocks and reserved wines and return the chicken legs. Simmer for 30 minutes until chicken legs tender and cooked through, skimming off any scum that rises to the surface from time to time.

Remove the legs go a plate and strain the stock through a fine strainer into a clean, wide pan. Boil it vigorously until reduced to a rich and syrupy sauce. Meanwhile, sauté the bacon cubes in a dry skillet until crisp.

When ready to serve, return the chicken legs to the reduced sauce and add the braised pearl onions and sauté baking cubes. Warm through, then divide the chicken and vegetables between warm surface plates. Add a spoonful of tarragon emulsion if serving. Garnish with the thyme sprigs, and white toast if you like. Serve accompanied by vegetables of your choice.

Braised Pearl Onions


1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
20 pearl onions, peeled
1 tablespoon superfine sugar
generous ⅓-¾ cup chicken stock


Heat a small pan, then add the olive oil and butter. Tip in the onions and pan-fry for 4-5 minutes until golden brown all over. Add the sugar, toss well, and cook for a few more minutes until the sugar has caramelized.

Carefully strain off the excess butter from the pan and add the chicken stock. Increase the heat and boil until the stock is reduced to syrupy glaze.  Pierce the onions with a metal skewer to check that they are tender. If not a little more stock to the pan and boil again until reduced to relays

Tarragon Emulsion


1 large bunch of tarragon, roughly chopped
1 slice of white toast, crust moved and roughly torn
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1 shallot, peeled and minced
½ peeled garlic clove
¼ cup olive oil
sea salt and black pepper


Put the tarragon, red, cider vinegar, shallot, and garlic into a blender or food processor and whiz to a fine purée. With the motor still running, trickle in the olive oil; the mixture will emulsify and become smooth. Season well with salt and pepper to taste. If not serving immediately, pour into a clean jar and cover with a thin layer of olive oil. Seal and store in refrigerator; use within a few days.

Source: Gordon Ramsay’s Maze