Beaujolais comes in two very distinct styles. On one hand you have an ocean of Beaujolais Nouveau and basic Beaujolais Villages - mostly simple, cherry-juicy red wines made using the carbonic maceration technique (fermenting whole, uncrushed grapes to maximise fruit and colour extraction). And then you have Beaujolais from the 10 best granite-soil vineyard areas (or 'crus') in the region: wines which take the succulence of the gamay grape, ramp up the concentration and add some firmer structure and complexity. The 2005 vintage was an excellent one for Beaujolais, and the best wines have even more mouthwatering deliciousness than usual - just the thing for washing down this classic bistro dish. - Max Allen
Coq au vin
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 90 gm butter, coarsely chopped at room temperature
- 1.6 kg free-range chicken, jointed
- 150 gm piece of pancetta, cut into 1 cm pieces
- 12 small pickling onions
- 125 ml brandy, warmed (½ cup)
- 750 ml Beaujolais (3 cups)
- 500 ml chicken stock (2 cups)
- 3 parsley stalks
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 2 small heads garlic, halved lengthways
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 200 gm mixed small mushrooms such as pine, Swiss brown and button, trimmed
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 kg desiree potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
- 50 gm butter, coarsely chopped
- 125 ml pouring cream (½ cup)
- 1Preheat oven to 160C. Heat oil and 20gm butter in a large casserole over medium-high heat, add chicken pieces and cook for 10 minutes, turning until golden, then transfer to a plate and keep warm. Add pancetta and onions and cook for 5 minutes or until golden, drain off excess fat. Return chicken to pan, pour over brandy and ignite with a long match. When flames are extinguished, add wine, stock, herbs and garlic and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring to the boil, cover and place in oven for 1 hour or until chicken is tender and cooked through. Transfer chicken, onions and pancetta to a warm dish, cover with foil and keep warm.
- 2Strain cooking liquid through a fine sieve, discarding herbs and garlic. Heat sauce in clean casserole over medium heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until reduced to 2 cups. Combine flour and 20gm butter into a paste, whisk into sauce and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until sauce has thickened and coats the back of a spoon.
- 3Meanwhile, heat 50gm butter in a frying pan over medium heat, add mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes or until golden, season to taste and set aside.
- 4For mashed potato, cook potatoes in boiling water for 15 minutes or until tender, drain and pass through a potato ricer into saucepan, add butter and cream, season to taste and stir to combine.
- 5To serve, return chicken, pancetta, onions and mushrooms to sauce and cook for 5 minutes, turning to coat and warm through. Serve chicken and sauce scattered with parsley, with mashed potato on the side.