Hey everyone! Despite all that’s going on, I’m almost 100% sure that you’ll find some optimism after reading this post.
To start off, I want to give a big thanks/shoutout to all of you who submitted recipes. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, you can check out my post regarding the dishes for donations challenge here. I will generally try to put 1-2 recipes on each post every week, so don’t worry if you don’t see your food up here today. All of your cool, new foods will be featured.
Our first recipe came literally hours after I posted my challenge last week. Uncle Tom submitted a recipe for what looks to be a delicious dinner/lunch comfort food, coq au vin with prunes! Don’t let the fancy wording scare you: coq au vin is simply a tender, braised chicken dish with, as he put, “lots of sauce”. A comfort food, the coq au vin recipe has been recommended to eat during a cold/rainy day as it was intended to be eaten during the fall/winter. Uncle Tom wrote that as there are lots of flavors going on in the dish, you should probably eat it with some form of carbohydrates, be that hot buttered egg noodles, rice, couscous, or bread. Again, big appreciation for Uncle Tom. You really helped us start off this recipe challenge the right way!
Recipe: Coq au Vin With Prunes
Time: 60 minutes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 chicken, cut into serving pieces
Salt and pepper
2 medium onions, chopped
1/2 cup salt pork or bacon, minced (optional)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 pound pitted prunes
2 cups Burgundy, pinot noir or other fruity red wine
2 tablespoons butter, optional
Minced parsley for garnish.
1. Put oil in a large skillet, preferably nonstick, and turn heat to medium-high. A minute
later, add as many chicken pieces as will fit without crowding, skin side down. Cook,
rotating pieces and adjusting heat as necessary to cook them evenly, until nicely browned
on skin side, about 5 minutes; turn and brown on other sides. As pieces are done, sprinkle
them with salt and pepper, transfer them to a large casserole, and add remaining pieces.
The entire process will take about 15 minutes.
2. When chicken is all browned, add onions to fat remaining in skillet; cook over
medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes, then transfer them
to casserole. Add salt pork or bacon to skillet, if you are using one of them, and cook,
stirring occasionally, until brown and crisp, about 5 minutes; transfer to casserole and
drain all but 1 tablespoon of fat. Turn heat to medium, add garlic and, 30 seconds later,
the prunes. Cook for a minute, stirring once or twice, then add to casserole.
3. Turn heat under skillet to high and add half the wine. Cook, stirring and scraping
bottom of pan to remove any solid particles there, until wine is reduced by half. Pour into
casserole along with remaining wine. Turn heat under casserole to high and bring to a
boil; stir, then reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer, stirring once or twice, until chicken
is done, about 30 minutes. Remove top, stir in optional butter, if using, and raise heat to
high; cook until sauce thickens a bit. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Garnish
with parsley and serve.
Yield: 4 servings.
Below is an article that came with the recipe. Hopefully you’ll understand this food (and how to make it) as a whole a little better after reading it.
January 30, 2002
A New Wrinkle for a Winter Classic
By MARK BITTMAN
THE standard coq au vin, even when it is made with shortcuts, is a hearty dish, what with its bacon, garlic, deep red wine and enrichment of butter. But the one I like best is made with prunes: it’s darker, richer, fuller, the kind of recipe one adores and makes repeatedly.
Generally speaking, poultry (or any meat) cooked with dried fruit works well. Because
dried fruit has more concentrated levels of acidity and flavor and less water than fresh
fruit, it usually combines better with savory foods.
In this instance, the prunes melt into the wine and become barely recognizable, bringing
even more depth, not only of color but of flavor. Despite its relative ease of preparation,
this becomes a serious dish, the kind that demands plenty of bread so that you can linger
over the juices.
None of this can happen without at least a little bit of effort. The chicken must be well-
browned before proceeding with the dish, and in this instance there is no hurrying the
process: take your time, brown each piece of chicken well, secure in the knowledge that
the rest of the dish is dead easy and that you’ll thank yourself at the table. When you
finish browning the chicken, you soften some chopped onions in the remaining fat, then
brown some bacon or salt pork, followed by garlic and prunes. Finally, you deglaze the
remaining bits of all of those ingredients with red wine before simmering the chicken in
the mixture and finishing with a little butter.
I’ve made both the bacon and the butter optional in the recipe below and, indeed, the dish still merits all the adjectives used above without either of them. But the amount of each is probably insignificant from a health perspective when divided by four, and the smokiness contributed by the bacon and richness added by the butter are both noticeable and luxurious. Should you choose not to use the bacon, you might soak a half-ounce of porcini mushrooms — those from Chile, which are often dried over wood and therefore as smoky as bacon, are a good choice — in a cup of hot water, then add them and the water to the skillet along with the wine (reduce the amount of wine by a half cup). This results in an equally delicious dish.
There are other possible variations: sauté a cup or so of sliced button (white) mushrooms
in the skillet, either instead of the bacon or after it. Similarly, you can brown a dozen or
so peeled pearl onions at that stage, with or without the mushrooms (don’t, however, omit the chopped onions), or a dozen or more whole cloves of garlic.
A couple of weeks ago, our community service group, A Greater We, spearheaded by a few family friends, started a really neat project called Free Laundry Friends. They sent out a great email with lots of detail, but for the sake of keeping this short, hopefully I can give you a quick rundown:
- The goal of Free Laundry Friends is to bring random acts of positivity and kindness to people that may be directly struggling with the social effects of the coronavirus (i.e people that might not have great healthcare, custodians working at a hospital)
- As stated by the title, one area that the group focussing on is laundry. They’ve been been working with various laundromats to “sponsor” and pay for all of the customers’ laundry the entire day. I hear that they’ve scouted out a bunch more laundromats to sponsor and some of the owners are even giving them a discount!
- The other thing that Free Laundry Friends is doing is gathering lots of baked treats and surprising the laundromat constomers with cookies, brownies, etc. I mean, my mom’s caramel cuts (blondies) recipe is pretty darn good, but imagine tasting something like that after a hard day of work. It must be so amazing, seeing the faces of people you don’t even know light up, especially in a time like this.
What you can do if you’d like to support or help Free Laundry Friends:
- Sorry for giving you so many GoFundMe pages, but here you can donate money which will be directly put into the laundry sponsorship. After a couple of days, they’ve already raised $17,000. In addition, you can also share the links below to your friends, colleagues, extended family, etc. Social Media is playing a big part in creating awareness for this organization.
- If you’re willing to make baked treats or know local chefs/bakers who would be interested in donating goods, you can contact the organization here: email@example.com.
Throughout my entire life, I’ve always tried to find happiness within myself, but during times like these, I can say that sometimes the best way to find it is in others.
See you next week!