In June last year, Maggie and I spent three days grazing our way around the Barossa Valley in South Australia. Along the way, I reconnected with Rockford, my long-ago favourite winery in this iconic region. Later in the year, we received Rockford’s annual mail-order selection. We chose six of the wines and bought two of each, making up enough for one carton to be delivered to our door.
The 2016 order form and newsletter arrived a couple of weeks ago and we sat down to decide what we would order. We knew that we would like to buy some bottles of three of the wine types we had bought in 2015; and not buy two of the other three. But we couldn’t recall how much we had enjoyed the sixth wine, a blend of Grenache, Mataro (Mouvedre) and Shiraz; aka hereabouts as GSM. (This blend is most famous for being produced in the Chateau Neuf du Pape wine appellation in the southern Rhone valley.)
We still had one of the two bottles left from 2015. But we couldn’t just open it for the sake of deciding whether or not to replace it, could we? These are quality wines, not cheap-thrills cleanskins! We had to make it worth the expense. What better way than to cook a meal of ‘coq au vin’, which calls for a flavoursome red wine in the cooking process?
Except for the fact that, in our kitchen, it usually takes many hours, spread across three successive days, to make coq au vin. That was not a realistic option; we had quite a lot on our plate already. So, we decided to prepare what food fashionistas might call a ‘deconstructed’ coq au vin, using an ovenproof, heavy-based, non-stick frying pan (skillet), with the lid on or off at various stages to mimic a pot roast. (We’ve used this cooking method a few times lately, trying to amuse ourselves while we wait for warm weather.)
The key ingredients for your regular coq au vin are: chicken on the bone; bacon or similar; onion or similar; mushrooms; herbs; red wine; and chicken stock. We used a whole spatchcock, with fresh herbs stuffed into its cavity; a piece of kaiserfleisch, cut into batons; a clove of garlic and the white part of a leek, sliced; flavoursome button mushrooms, sliced; a little butter; and about 1/2 a cup each of chicken stock and the candidate wine.
In summary form, the method went something like this, approximately!
- Preheat oven to no more than 150C
- Heat the pan, reduce heat to low, add the batons of kaiserfleisch, place the lid on and gently render at least half of the fat. Remove the batons and reserve; use paper towel to remove most of the fat.
- Melt some butter – about half as much as if you were going to cook to completion – add the leek and garlic and saute for about 3 minutes. Add the mushroom and saute for a further 3 minutes. Add the cooked batons and half of the wine and stock, bring to a simmer and cook for a couple of minutes. Move the mixture to make room in the centre of the pan for the spatchcock (skin seasoned with salt and pepper).
- Put the spatchcock breast-side up in the pan, place the lid back on the pan and transfer it to the oven.
- Bake for about 30 minutes. After each 15 minutes, tip the spatchcock so the juices empty from its cavity into the pan.
- Remove the lid, add the remaining stock and wine and cook, uncovered for a further 15 minutes to brown the skin of the chicken and thicken the mixture of vegetables and liquids.
The result was delicious. So was the wine – we’ve ordered three bottles of the latest release!