Many, many years ago I spend July in France. I began my Trip in Paris with JM and then onto Nice, Marseilles, Toulouse and finally a small village where I spent my birthday with Amanda and Tim.
JM, a chef friend told me since I was going from Marseilles to Toulouse I MUST stop off at his Grandmother's, just let him know which train I was on and his cousin would pick me up at the station. This was in the old world before folks traveled with cell phones and did everything by e mail so once in Nice with an actual itinerary I telephoned from the train station and had to trust the cousin would meet me.
She did and I went to a wonderful house with lots of grounds, chickens, goats, and a huge garden.
There was a freshly plucked chicken hanging in the kitchen and when I met Grandma and she showed me her wonderful kitchen I looked at the kitchen and excited I asked..."Are you going to make Coq au Vin?"
What did I know...this was a young chicken, not an old rooster and entirely unsuitable for a dish that was for winter anyway. Not to disappoint I got a summer version that was so delicious and comforting that I had to share it, finally, I won't say how many years later.
1 young chicken cut and and well salted
1/4 pound of lardons (yes you can use bacon cut into small pieces
2 large onions
10 cloves of garlic chopped
2 carrots chopped
2 leeks chopped
2 celery stalks chopped
(big chunks of these are fine)
Wine, about a half a bottle of whatever you have on hand
If it's winter and you don't have fresh herbs in the garden a few shakes of whatever you've got in the house will be fine.
Crisp the bacon and remove from pan, hold it back til much later. Put in the chicken and get VERY brown. Remove chicken and throw in the onion and when it is soft the garlic. Get out your dutch oven and throw in the leeks, celery and carrots along with some herbs, fresh or dried, not too much. Toss the onion garlic mix from the skillet onto the veg and deglaze your pan with some wine, toss it in. Now lay the chicken pieces skin side up, nice and even. Pour wine JUST until it reaches the edge of the chicken skin. Cut some butter and put on the chicken, it will melt into the wine and veg and be so frigging good.
Let it sit while the oven pre-heats to 450.
Put the pan in the oven for 10 minutes at 450 then turn the heat down to 350 and leave for about another hour. The wine should reduce to a sauce. Remove chicken to warm platter and stir in the bacon and put the vegetables on the side.
Because we had heated up the kitchen in the summer we at in the garden and sopped up the last bits of buttery sauce with the bread.
A dish that was never made in the summer, modified for me. That's what grandma's do...they always cook with love.