Date Ideas

Your Be-a-Hero Date Menu: Easy Coq Au Vin

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DSC_0348Editor’s note: Before you read this, check out The Most Romantic Thing a Guy Can Do This Valentine’s Day if you haven’t already, and also don’t miss Ben’s other recipes for rosemary nutmeg angel hair pasta, candied saffron scallops, and a chocolate cremeux for dessert.

Cook something French. It’s what Julia Child would tell you to do. And most likely she would tell you to cook Coq Au Vin. This braised chicken dish is an absolute classic. It has all the elements for a perfect romantic dinner, plus a couple bottles of red wine.

The dish is not (we repeat, NOT) difficult, but it does take just under 2 hours to complete. If you want to get it out of the way the day before, Coq au Vin keeps very well over night.

I include a quick recipe for glazed sweet potatoes and parsnips. If you don’t want to go that route, the stewed chicken is equally good on top of a simple starch such as rice, potatoes or egg noodles. You will also want to serve Coq Au Vin with a toasted baquette. There’s too much delicious liquid to go to waste.

Coq Au Vin

Serves: 2-4 people.

Prep: 20 min
Cook: 75 min



1 whole chicken separated
½ lb of thick-cut bacon
2 cups chicken stock
12 pearl onions
2 cups of mushrooms
4 cloves of garlic
2 cups of red wine
½ cup of cognac
1 small can of tomato paste
3 sprigs of thyme
1 sprig of rosemary
1 tablespoon of butter
2 tablespoons of flour
black pepper


Preheat oven: 350 degrees.

Step 1: Remove skin from pearl onions. Chop garlic. Set aside.

Step 2. Cut bacon into ½-inch cuts. Place in braising pot at low heat to render fat. Add a tablespoon of butter.

Step 3. Rinse chicken, pat dry and then lightly cover skin with salt and pepper.

Step 4. Place chicken in pot and saute all sides until golden brown, 10 minutes.  Once browned, turn off heat and cover.

Step 5.  In a sauce pot at medium heat, pour in wine and stock. Mix in tomato paste. Add flour, pepper and salt. Quickly simmer as flour thickens sauce and everything integrates, 5-7 minutes.

Step 6: Rinse mushrooms.


Step 1. Surround chicken with mushrooms, garlic and onions and all of your herbs.

Step 2. Pour your liquid into pot and add a splash of red wine for good measure. Cover pot. Go drink some wine.

Step 3. After 60 minutes check chicken. The broth should be dark red and at a low simmer. If liquid looks low, add wine.

Step 4. Take top of for last 15 minutes.

C’est Fini!  Serve on top of starch. Keep bread and red wine within reach.

Pan Braised-Maple Glazed Sweet Potato and Parsnips

Since it’s February, we are deep into root vegetable season. Parsnips are a wonderful alternative to white potatoes, and sweet potatoes are amazing with reduced maple syrup.

This is an all-American side dish. It’s slightly decadant and melds well with the braised liquid of the main dish. Prepare it after you put your chicken in the oven.

Prep: 10 min
Cook: 25 min


DSC_03442 parsnips
1 medium-size sweet potato
1 ½ tablespoons Maple syrup
½ cup cognac


Step 1. Peel and slice potato and parsnip into quarter coins.

Step 2. Put pan on low heat.

Step 3. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add ½ cup of cognac and 1½ tablespoons of maple syrup. Stir vigorously until mixed.


Step 4. Layer pan with parsnips and potatoes. Cover pan.

Step 5. Vegetables will soften and liquid will evaporate. Cook until they become glazed and slightly crispy. Check in every 10 minutes.