Julia Child’s Coq au Vin recipe stands the test of time

Julia Child's Coq au Vin recipe stands the test of time

Coq au vin is a traditional French dish, but Julia Child left her own memorable mark on it with her 1960s cooking show, The French Chef† Child and her legendary foray into television were most recently portrayed in the HBO Max series Juliawhich HBO just announced will return for a second season next year. Kind makes coq au vin in one of the episodes, so to mark the passing of Season 1 and the (hopefully) imminent passage of the cold weather that has lingered over much of the country, we’re reprinting the timelessly comforting (and slightly modified) recipe from Child’s Mastering the art of French cooking, the 1961 magnum opus that she co-wrote with Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle. As Child notes in her original keynotes, the dish is “made with white or red wine, but red is more characteristic.” Traditionally accompanied by parsley potatoes, here it is served with potatoes and peas, the latter adding a pop of color to the dish’s rather earthy palette. Kind advised “a young, full-bodied red Burgundy, Beaujolais or Cotes du Rhône” to accompany the dish and, well, who are we to disagree?

Julia Child’s Coq au Vin Recipe (Chicken in Red Wine with Onions, Mushrooms, and Bacon)

Serves 4 to 6


A piece of lean bacon from 3 to 4 ounces
2 tablespoons butter
2½ to 3 pounds shredded deep-fried chicken
½ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup brandy
3 cups of young, full-bodied red wine such as Bourgogne, Beaujolais, Côtes du Rhône or Chianti
1-2 cups brown chicken stock, brown stock, or canned beef stock
½ tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves crushed garlic
¼ teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
12 to 24 pearl onions
½ pound mushrooms
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons soft butter


Step 1: Remove the skin from the bacon and cut the bacon into bacon bits (rectangles inch wide and 1 inch long). Simmer in 2 quarts of water for 10 minutes. Rinse in cold water. Dry.

Step 2: Slowly fry the bacon in hot butter until very light brown. Remove to a side dish.

Step 3: Dry the chicken well. Brown it in the hot fat in the frying pan.

Step 4: Season the chicken. Return the bacon to the skillet with the chicken. Cover and cook slowly for 10 minutes, turning the chicken once.

Step 5: Cover and pour in the cognac. Turning your face away, light the brandy with a lit match. Shake the casserole back and forth for a few seconds until the flames are out.

Step 6: Pour the wine into the casserole. Add just enough stock or stock to cover the chicken. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic and herbs. Bring to boil. Cover and simmer gently for 25 to 30 minutes, or until chicken is tender and juices turn bright yellow when pierced with a fork. Remove the chicken to a side dish.

Step 7: While the chicken is cooking, cook the pearl onions until soft and saute the mushrooms.

Step 8: Simmer the chicken cooking liquid in the skillet for a minute or two and skim off the fat. Then increase the heat and cook quickly, reducing the liquid to about 2¼ cups. Correct spices. Remove from heat and discard the bay leaf.

Step 9: Mix the butter and flour to a smooth paste (beurre manie). Beat the pasta into the hot liquid with a wire whisk. Bring to a boil, stirring, and simmer for a minute or two. The sauce should be thick enough to lightly cover a spoon.

Step 10: Place the chicken in the casserole, arrange the mushrooms and onions around it and baste with the sauce. If the dish is not served immediately, film the top of the sauce with stock or dose with small pieces of butter. Set aside uncovered. It can now wait indefinitely.

Step 11: Bring to the boil shortly before serving and baste the chicken with the sauce. Cover and simmer gently for 4 to 5 minutes, until chicken is hot through and through.

Step 12: Serve from the casserole, or arrange on a warm platter. Decorate with sprigs of parsley.

dina vila is a photographer in Portland, Oregon.
Recipe prepared by Ivy Manning.