Saturday, January 19, 2008

Dark Days: Coq au Vin

Throughout the winter CSA season, our farmer friend Brett will occasionally include a chicken with our weekly produce delivery.

This is one of his laying hens. People sometimes tell Brett the chicken is tough. Brett says, cook the chicken longer. By that he does not mean an hour or two. He means three or four hours.

This particular chicken, cooked with red wine, bacon, garlic and beef broth, braised four hours in the pot. Still, it was on the chewy side. But oh, the flavor. Dark and gamey, that's how I like it.

I had also been watching carefully the progress of the turnips in my garden. I had a hard time getting the turnips to germinate this summer. Rutabagas, too. Was it too hot? Did I not water the seeds enough? I don't know the answer. I planted seeds twice and still did not get a full crop. But the turnips that did finally take hold are beauties. I can see their white flesh rising out of the ground all the way from the front stoop.

The two I pulled yesterday were baseball size, perfectly round with rich soil clinging to the roots. These are not the turnips I would normally plant for greens. But I tasted the leaves anyway and they were delicious--sweet. I decided to include them in a braise with the other greens from our weekly package.

So there you have our totally local meal for the week: coq au vin, turnips mashed with blue cheese and braised greens seasoned with apple cider. Homely, yes, but very satisfying. Just the thing for a winter's night.

The turnips came out so well--sweet, with just a hint of horseradish--that I am convinced to plant more and pay better attention to them in the coming year.


Anonymous said...

Great job with the turnips, Ed!

I love them, albeit small ones; my mom is keen for rutabagas. I figured out the only way they grow really well for me is if I plant them really late: like, mid-August or so. They don't really like the heat, and the leaves get lacy with cabbage loopers and flea beetles, but they really come into their own in the late fall.

I think people often have this notion that they have to plant the entirety of their veg garden on one grueling day in spring. And then they tire of the garden by mid-August: no wonder! All they've been doing (or avoiding) is harvesting and weeding! But my best crops come of a late planting: fennel, cabbages, turnips, beets...

Jenny said...

Mmmm ... coq au vin is on the menu for tomorrow. The rest of your menu sounds utterly fantastic too.

maggie said...

coq au vin was the whole reason I invested in the le creuset dutch oven. It's how most of our roosters end up. Your post is making me think it's time to thin the flock...

I'm still trying to warm up to turnips (although we grew a nice crop this fall).

Ed Bruske said...

El, I seem to plant everything a little late. Just poor calendar management, I guess. So I'm looking for the turnips and rutabaga to mature sometime after the big freeze. These turnips were great, mashed with blue cheese.

Jenny, I turned right around and made a coq au vin for a client, but using a more tender chicken. It's a great dish. The sauce is sublime--I could stand at the kitchen counter all day, just slurping it up with mashed potatoes.

Maggie, I would love to taste coq au vin with one of your home-grown roosters. I like the darker, gamier stuff. The turnips I grew only barely resemble the stuff you get in the supermarket. They're tender and sweet and mash up very easily. You should try some.