Coq au Vin Menu + Wine Pairing

Coq au Vin. Photo by Andy Fjellman

Coq au Vin is another one of those French recipes that never fails to thrill guests. I love serving it especially because you can get it all done in advance and safely let it sit in a warm spot for up to 2 hours; just reheat and serve. No last-minute flurry!

So, what to serve with it? Here’s a menu:

• Starters: Tapenade Crackers and apéritifs
• Sit-Down First Course: Belgian Endive Salad with Walnuts
• Plat Principal: Coq au Vin with Any-Night Baked Rice
• Cheese course (optional)
• Classic French Fruit Tart or Crème Caramel

Here’s the logic (and believe me, I’ve not only thought a lot about this, but served this menu often!):

Crackers with Hummus and Tapenade Verte.

Beforehand Nibbles: Don’t overdo appetizers! You want to rouse—but not douse—your guest’s appetites before they sit down to savor your masterpiece. I always start simply: Maybe a few of my Tapenade Crackers: Simply slather a great cracker (I love Trader Joe’s Savory Thins) with some purchased hummus and a bit of my Tapenade Noire (page 6 of The Bonne Femme Cookbook) or Tapenade Verte (page 7). Maybe put out a small bowl of nuts or if you can’t help yourself, slice a few thin slices of a wonderful cured sausage (preferably from France). Serve with a classic Kir au Vin Blanc or one of these apéritifs.

First-Course Sit-Down Starter: Endive Salad with Walnuts and Blue Cheese

Why not start with something fresh and bright? Your guests’s appetites are truly revved up after this beauty!

Plat Principal: Coq au Vin

You can serve this with a variety of sides. My favorite is Any-Night Baked Rice, but it’s also lovely served over Parsnip-Potato Puree (as above). If you love noodles, go for it. But don’t feel that you need to also serve a green vegetable alongside. You’ve enjoyed veggies in your first course, after all! (The French rarely much up the plate with too many sides, preferring instead to star vegetables in their own course.)

Cheese course simply presented at Domaine des Closel in Savennieres, France.

Optional Cheese Course

Entirely up to you! Yes, you’ve had a little cheese in the first course, but not that much, and who says you can’t have more? Just don’t serve blue cheese if you’ve already served blue cheese in your sit-down starter.

Dessert: Classic French Fruit Tart or Crème Caramel

Ah, the lucky French. They have a great pâtisserie right around the corner. If you do, too, go ahead and pick up a luscious tart perhaps one of those jobbies with pastry cream and fresh fruits that sparkle like jewels. Of course, I have a classic French Fruit Tart in my book (page 354), but if you don’t want anything all that involved, then go for another classic that’s just as beloved but much, much easier: Crème Caramel.

You see, nothing in this particular menu has been overly creamy, so a cool, slithery-on-the-tongue crème caramel will finish provide a silky, rich finale that won’t do your guests in. You want them to float out the door feeling great for having eaten chez vous—the last thing you want is for them to go home and groan.

Wine Pairing: In my view, unless you want to splurge for a really great bottle of Gevry-Chambertin, a really good Beaujolais Cru is about the best wine in the world to go with this. Read about Beaujolais cru in one of my recent Weekend Posts.

P.S.: Want more great recipes for your braiser? Check out my The Braiser Cookbook($2.99), an ebook. And remember, you don’t have to own a Kindle to read e-books. You can download a free Kindle reading app here: Amazon.com – Read eBooks using the FREE Kindle Reading App on Most Devices

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