I used to make the classic French recipe, Coq au vin, when we lived in Vienna all the time - especially in winter. I even have ordered it several times at restaurants in France (various regions) to get the local take on how to make it, season it, etc... .
I know Tara loves the dark meat of chicken and turkey. So when coming up with a meal for her 55th birthday (she didn't want beef), Alexa suggested the Coq au vin which is traditionally made with leg quarters of a chicken. I've got my favorite recipes on an older laptop for this dish (that's how long it has been since I made it). So I tracked down the pretty much classic and world famous Julia Child recipe for this dish.
Julia lived in France in post war (WWII that is) times and attended the famous French culinary school - Le Cordon Bleu. She then began teaching the art of French cooking to Americans that were living and working in France and well - you know the rest of the story. The woman could cook and her cook books and television cooking shows changed America's cuisine. Tara and I love her recipes.
Making Coq au vin involves frying the sides of the chicken in the pot to get it browned before adding all the wine, stock, mushrooms, garlic, pearl onions, pork/bacon, and tomato paste. Even using a frying screen - the splatter is always a mess and I did my best to keep things clean during and after that step of the process.
The centerpiece of Tara's birthday meal...
Photo (c) 2012 Kate Morgan Jackson
Of course, in the French tradition, this dish is served with crusty French baguette to help mop up the gravy and get every last bit off of your plate. Man was it good!!! I steamed potatoes and carrots as our side and buried them in gravy as well. Yummmmmmmy!!!!
Alexa made a cupcake run up to the new cupcake place in West Des Moines - Scratch. She brought back an assortment of 7 cupcakes which we plated and used as Tara's unique birthday cake. Then we all sampled pretty much all of the cupcakes. Since Tara loves to tastes bits of things rather than eating one huge piece, it was really a perfect and unique way to take care of her version of a birthday cake.
It was a nice evening. Thank you Julia for the most classic recipe of this French dish.
Following the meal, we watched Part Deux of the Lance Armstrong interview with Oprah. Part two was only 60 minutes in length, but showed some emotion from Lance - especially when it came to what he had to say recently to his children about his doping.
Today - long bike ride outside to take advantage of temperatures in the 50's with sunshine before the cold weather hits tonight.