I love French food. I love anything French, frankly, but the food is right at the top of my list, mostly because French food is never without wine. The idea of eating a meal after 11 am with a glass of water, juice, or worse, tea or coffee, makes me shudder in a very French way. So a meal that has wine IN it? Even better. 
Now, I cook like my French mother, which is to say that we swear off silly things that get in our way; things like recipes. So this “recipe” for coq au vin is, shall we say, imprecise. If you are a recipe person (and even if you aren’t), I suggest adding a first step below: Drink a glass of red wine.
You are sure to find the whole process will go much more smoothly!

The Best Coq Au Vin Recipe


  • Chicken breast – 1 – 1.5 per adult
  • Chicken stock – home made is best, but who are we kidding? We use the low sodium boxed broth
  • Chopped onions – anything but red onion (trust me on this!)
  • Finely minced garlic – 1 or 2 cloves
  • Herbes de provence, salt and pepper, 2 bay leaves. The HdeP is NON negotiable: go buy some. Now.
  • Mushrooms – white is fine; cremini is better – wiped down and quartered
  • Niçoise olives – if you can’t find these, then unstuffed green olives are fine
  • Red wine – don’t use the cheap stuff either: bad wine just makes bad food
  • And finally, our secret ingredient: ketchup (shhhh…. don’t tell my grandmother!)


    1. Do your ‘mise en place’ – which means getting all the ingredients out and ready so that you aren’t rummaging through the cupboard for something with grubby hands – this is a good time to pour yourself a glass of the wine to make sure that it is not corked or off (wink)!
    2. Get a lot of tasting spoons out: we don’t do measurements so you have to taste it frequently to make sure it’s edible!
    3. Cut the chicken into bite size pieces.
    4. Heat a bit of olive oil and a pat of butter in a pan to a high heat and sauté the chicken to brown it – if you have a lot of chicken, do it in batches otherwise it will boil disgustingly in the pan; move the cooked chicken to a large pot.
    5. Add the chopped onions and cook for a minute then add the garlic. Cook until soft and add to the chicken in the cooking pot.
    6. Deglaze the pan to get all the yummy bits that stuck to the bottom of your pan with a bit of the red wine (not from your glass!); cook it down for a minute and add to the pot. Don’t forget to deglaze your own palate with a sip from your glass, now and again!
    7. Fill the pot with chicken stock and red wine until the chicken is fully covered and a little bit more – you will be adding the mushrooms later, so it needs to be more than covered.
    8. Add the Herbes de Provence, bay leaves and olives.
    9. Taste.
    10. Add salt and pepper as needed (not too much salt because the olives are usually brined and will add some salt flavour).
    11. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a high simmer.
    12. Taste.
    13. Add ketchup.
    14. Taste and adjust with any of the above flavours EXCEPT bay leaves – too much of those will totally ruin it (trust me on this too!)
    15. Let it simmer for a good 30 – 40 minutes.
    16. Add mushrooms.
    17. Taste and adjust flavours.
    18. Simmer for a further 15 minutes, minimum.

And that’s it. This dish can be cooled and frozen or better yet, made a day ahead and reheated slowly for a winter dinner party, to be served with egg noodles, crusty baguette and, though it goes without saying, a gorgeous red wine.

Bon appétit!

About the author

Chantal Saville

Who am I?

Chantal Saville.

Mother. Daughter. Publisher. Editor. Writer.

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