Coq au Vin Blanc is one of those rare dishes that is dinner party elegant, but also homey and comforting. A simplified version of the French classic, this rich and deeply savory dish requires just a few simple, easy to find ingredients and a little bit of time.
Straying from a few of the traditional Coq au Vin ingredients: I swapped in white wine for red, used only chicken thighs instead of a variety of chicken pieces, and exchanged shallots for often elusive pearl onions. Though the ingredients and techniques are simpler, I promise you won't have to sacrifice a bit of flavor.
You'll cook this dish in stages using just one pot. First searing bone-in skin-on chicken thighs in bacon fat until golden brown then braising until meltingly tender in a savory fusion of wine, broth, mushrooms and a blend of aromatics. Serve with crusty bread or mashed potatoes because you won't want to miss a drop of the luscious sauce.
Ingredients You Need to Make Coq au Vin Blanc
- Bone-in Skin on Chicken Thighs: Buy thighs of similar size for even cooking.
- Bacon: Thick cut bacon is best for cutting into lardons. (see image below)
- Shallots: Or pearl onions, your choice.
- Yellow Onion: Look for a firm onion with shiny skin.
- Garlic: Look for a plump head of garlic with smooth, tight skin.
- Mushrooms: Button mushrooms or cremini mushrooms, your choice.
- Dried Thyme Leaves: Or fresh thyme leaves and sprigs for garnish if you like.
- Dry White Wine: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc or other dry white wine.
- Chicken Broth: Or chicken stock.
- Butter: Salted or unsalted, whatever you have on hand.
- Fresh Parsley: For garnish, optional.
- Thyme Sprigs: For garnish, optional.
Traditional Flavors, Simplified Method
Often Coq au Vin Blanc preparation begins with the chicken marinating overnight. I've included this as a recipe option, but it's not a necessity. Renowned for their flavor and tenderness, chicken thighs absorb ample flavor during the braise and don't require extra marinating time. This same day method is convenient for times when you want an easy and elegant meal for family, friends, and special occasions.
Instead of red wine, you'll use a dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, or Pinot Blanc. I don't recommend Chardonnay with its low acidity and characteristic oaky flavor.
Though pearl onions are traditional in this dish, they can be a challenge to find. Shallots on the other hand are easy to find and make a great stand in with their mild, sweet flavor. That said, if you do come across pearl onions (fresh or frozen), they do add a lovely visual element to the dish.
For ease and even cooking, I've broken from tradition, opting for just bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs instead of the various pieces of a cut up whole chicken.
I skipped the brandy flambé, a risky method that many home cooks, including me, aren't interested in.
Following tradition, the chicken, mushrooms and aromatics sauté in the flavorful fat rendered from bacon lardons.
Reducing the sauce at the end until thick and creamy avoids the use of any thickeners like flour or cornstarch. In lieu of heavy cream, swirling in a couple of tablespoons of butter before serving adds extra richness.
Dry white wine is the best choice for Coq au Vin Blanc. Dry white wines like Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, or Pinot Blanc aren't sweet, but crisp and acidic. Remember that cooking wine intensifies rather than dulls its flavor, so be sure to use a wine that you'd be happy to drink by the glass.
Alcohol does not cook out quickly. According to the US Department of Agriculture, up to 75% of the alcohol remains even after a flambé! With the 30 minute cooking time, about 65% of the alcohol will remain (it takes 2 ½ to 3 hours to cook it out completely).
Coq au Vin is typically prepared with the various individual pieces of a cut-up chicken. However, here it's simplified just using just bone-in skin-on chicken thighs, for ease and even cooking.
How to Make Coq au Vin Blanc
Step 1: In a large, heavy bottomed pot, cook bacon lardons until crisp. Remove with slotted spoon.
Step 2: Brown seasoned chicken thighs on both sides in hot bacon fat and transfer to platter.
Step 3: Add shallots, onion, and garlic to pot and sauté until softened. Add mushrooms and thyme; cook and stir 5 minutes more. Add wine and broth; bring to boil. Arrange chicken skin side up in pot; sprinkle bacon lardons over. Reduce heat and cover; simmer 30 minutes. Transfer chicken to platter.
Step 4: Increase heat and cook sauce until thick and creamy, 8 to 10 minutes. Add butter and stir to melt; season to taste with salt and pepper. Return chicken to sauce and simmer until heated through, spooning sauce over the top. Garnish as desired and serve directly from pot or arrange on a platter.
Coq au Vin Blanc
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs 3 to 3-½ pounds
- 4 strips thick cut bacon thinly sliced crosswise into lardons
- 8 ounces shallots diced large (½-inch), or peeled pearl onions
- 1 large yellow onion finely chopped
- 3 large garlic cloves thinly sliced
- 8 ounces button mushrooms thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves or 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 1 cup dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or chardonnay
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons butter
- fresh thyme sprigs for garnish, optional
- finely chopped fresh parsley for garnish, optional
- Pat chicken thighs dry and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Cook bacon lardons until crisp and fat has rendered in a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat (I use a 3.5 quart braiser). Transfer lardons to paper towel lined plate with slotted spoon.
- Place a single layer of chicken thighs, skin-side down into hot bacon fat. Cook until skin has browned, then turn to brown other side (about 8 minutes total). Transfer to platter and repeat with remaining chicken thighs.
- Add shallots, onion, and garlic to pot; cook and stir until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and thyme; cook and stir 5 minutes more. Stir in white wine and broth; bring to boil. Add chicken skin-side up and any accumulated juices along with lardons to pot; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Transfer chicken to platter.
- Increase to medium-high heat and bring sauce to boil; cook 8 to 10 minutes more until sauce thickens. Stir in butter and season to taste with salt and pepper. Reduce heat and return chicken to pot; simmer until heated through, spooning some of the sauce over the top. Serve from Dutch oven or arrange on deep platter. Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs and parsley if desired.
- Note that this make 4 generous servings. If you're serving vegetables and mashed potatoes, pasta or other filling sides, it would easily serve 6.