The Whole Chicken Project TM_WC_AUVIN_FI_001

Coq au Vin Lite

Julia might disapprove, but this version is one-tenth of the work, for 100 percent of the satisfaction


When I was in high school, I realized an essential fact about myself. I am not a perfectionist. I am entirely satisfied with a job done to the point of being good enough. I like to work hard and derive a great deal of pleasure at a task done well, I just don’t like making myself crazy over the minutia.

A good example of my tendency to accept “perfectly good” over “aggressively perfect” is in my attitude towards the classic French dish, Coq au Vin. Truly, it is a marvel of a dish, requiring you to brown and then remove onto a plate a parade of ingredients. The Julia Child recipe even instructs you to blanch your bacon slivers before introducing them to the party, lest it bring too much smokiness to the table.

My version is far less work and still manages to taste quite spectacular (and it’s just perfect for this Whole Chicken Project of mine). It might not be a perfectly divine as the classic dish, but it is one-tenth of the work and that satisfies me down to the bone.

You trim a whole bird, pat it dry, and dust it with salt and black pepper. Then you cook onions, leeks, carrots, and a few garlic cloves in a bit of olive oil, until they start to brown and smell fragrant. Once the vegetables are tender, you snug the bird down into them and add the red wine. Cover and cook until the chicken is tender (I like to remove the lid in the final half hour of cooking, so the chicken can crisp a little).

Once it’s done, you can serve the chicken pieces with the braising liquid and veg spooned right out of the pan, or you can scoop the remaining wine and bits of carrot, leek and onion into a blender and give it a quick puree. Either way, it’s good eaten over buttered egg noodles, mashed potatoes or an easy Brussels sprout hash.

A note about the wine: I tend to use any bottle of red I can put hands on. Neither my husband nor I drink much, so there are always a couple unopened bottles around our place, mostly likely brought by friends to various dinner parties and gatherings. I always do a quick internet search before opening a bottle with which to cook, to make sure I’m not tipping a particularly special or expensive vintage into my braising pot.

Chicken Braised in Red Wine


  • 1 whole chicken, approximately 3-4 pounds
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 leek, cleaned and sliced into half moons
  • 3-4 large carrots, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bottle red wine


Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove chicken from package. Check for interior giblet package and remove it, if present. Cut away any excess fat from the chicken. Pat dry with paper towels and season well, inside and out, with the salt and pepper. Place prepared chicken on a plate and let it rest for a few minutes.

Place a large, oven-safe pot that has a tight-fitting lid (I have an oval enameled cast iron pot that is perfect for this task), over a medium-high flame. Add olive oil, onions, and leeks. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes, until the onions and leeks have begun to develop some color and smell fragrant.

Add carrots, garlic cloves, and bay leaves and stir to combine. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, until the carrots begin to soften a little and the garlic scent fills the kitchen.

Season the vegetables with salt and pepper. Taste a carrot and adjust, as needed. Once you’re happy with the flavor, remove the pot from the heat, nestle the chicken in on top of the wilted aromatics, and pour the wine around the base of the chicken (don’t pour it directly over the bird, as you don’t want to wash the salt and pepper entirely off the bird).

Place a lid on the pan (or cover with aluminum foil if your oven-safe pan doesn’t have a good lid). Slide the pan into the oven and cook covered for 1½ hours. When time is up, remove cover and cook for additional 30-45 minutes, until the top of the chicken has crisped a little and the leg wiggles freely in the joint.

Serve over buttered egg noodles, mashed potatoes or Brussels sprout hash.

Brussels Sprout Hash


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 leeks, washed and sliced
  • 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, shredded in a food processor or on a mandoline
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and butter and heat until just melted. Add leeks and let cook for 2-3 minutes, until you see a few bits starting to brown and become frizzled.

Add sprout shreds and, using tongs, mix the leeks and sprouts together. Cook for 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sprouts slump and brown. Add a splash of water if it looks like things are beginning to burn.

Add a generous pinch of salt and four or five turns of a pepper grinder. Taste and adjust. When the sprouts and leeks are tender, remove pan from the heat. Stir in the lemon zest and serve.

Marisa McClellan is a food blogger, freelance writer and canning teacher based in Center City Philadelphia. She runs a website called Food in Jars, where she writes about canning, preserving and delicious things made from scratch. She regularly writes for the Food Network, USA Today, Grid Philly and Mrs. Wages. Her first cookbook, Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round, is now available.


  1. Cary Bradley says:

    Jaw hanging open here… amazing adaptation, and love the sides too! Happy Friday!

    • Marisa says:

      Thanks Cary! I must tell you, that Brussels sprouts hash is also amazing topped with a poached egg or two.

  2. Katie Hanrahan says:

    Yumm!! Can’t wait to try both!

  3. OMGosh! You’re over here, too! I just pulled just up as have a whole chicken I am planning to cook tonite. This is so helpful – for a great idea beyond simple roast chicken!
    Thanks, Marisa!

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