Loving food as we do, we spend not an inconsiderable amount of time trying to decide which restaurant we should visit to mark special occasions before deciding that actually, we prefer to stay at home and relax.

When deciding what to cook however, the decision is easy. Simple, classic and downright delicious coq au vin is the only contender.


  • 1 bottle of decent red wine (a Pinot Noir is good)
  • 1 dsp redcurrant jelly
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 4 x garlic cloves, unpeeled and bruised
  • 3-4 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cloves
  • 4 large chicken joints
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 25g butter
  • 100g smoked pancetta cut into large cubes
  • salt & pepper to season
  • 1 x tbsp flour
  • 20 shallots, peeled
  • 20 button mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp Cognac


Put the first nine ingredients into a stainless steel or enamelled pot and bring to the boil.

Leave over a medium flame until reduced by one-third.

Strain through a fine sieve and cool completely.

Marinate the chicken for at least 6 hours, but 24 is better.

Warm the olive oil and butter in a solid-bottomed pot or frying pan and gently fry the pancetta until golden.

Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve.

Season the chicken and roll in the flour.

Fry until golden brown in the olive oil/pancetta fat.

Remove and put with the reserved pancetta.

Tip the onions and mushrooms into the pot and cook gently until well coloured (about ten mins).

Tip out all the fat, return the chicken and bacon to the pot and turn up the heat.

Pour over the Cognac and set alight. Allow the flames to die down and then add the reserved, reduced wine.

Shake about a bit and allow everything to settle down.

Cover and then simmer over the lowest possible heat, partially covered for about an hour. Alternatively, cook in the oven at 170/325/Gas 3 for the same time.

Serve with boiled potatoes, or fry some little bread triangles dipping the ends into red wine and parsley, or as I like it best with simple crusty bread.

An absolutely delicious dish that tastes even better reheated the next day.

Serves 2