Thursday, December 11, 2008

Coq a Vin and Cornmeal Crusted Roasted Ratatouille Tart: Wednesday Night Dinner for the Overachiever






We have a special Thursday doubleheader today, with this being a scheduled posting day for both the Barefoot Bloggers and the Craving Ellie in My Belly gang. Wednesday may be Prince Spaghetti Day for some people, but for us wild and crazy food bloggers, it's Coq a Vin and Cornmeal Crusted Roasted Ratatouille Tart Day!

BAREFOOT

Coq a Vin is the Barefoot selection, chosen by Bethany of This Little Piggy Went To Market. I was intimidated when I first learned that coq a vin was one of the December Barefoot recipes. December is a busy month, and coq a vin sounded complicated -- a good February recipe, really. But in her new book, Back to Basics, Ina assures us that coq a vin is really easy. Easy as boiling water? Easy as a pot roast? How easy is it, Ina? In her own words:

Over the years I've tried many times to make a good coq a vin, the renowned French chicken stew with red wine, but with disappointing results. My television producer Olivia Grove one day told me, "Well, it's just beef bourguignon with chicken," and I thought, "So it is!"

Phew, it's as easy as beef bourguignon. That's a relief! [I think it's safe to say that Ina's "everywoman" shtick needs a little work before she has it down as well as Oprah does, but we love her anyway.]

I really haven't had my act together lately -- I'm waaaaay behind on Christmas, I walk into a room and forget why I'm there, I drove halfway to work one day and realized I was still wearing my wicked good slippers, and I'm just generally scatterbrained. In keeping with this lack of togetherness, it seemed like I made a separate grocery trip for each ingredient in this recipe. And I still forgot the fresh thyme.

This recipe calls for a full bottle of dry red wine and some cognac or brandy. I've got to tell you, even at the height of my wild college partying days (okay, so they weren't that wild) I never spent as much time at the package store as I have since I started food blogging. Remember the enthusiastic "NORM!!!" greeting that our favorite barfly used to get whenever he walked into Cheers? Well, when I went into my usual packy the other week for Meyer's, my chain smoking goth rocker cashier friend greeted me with a most friendly and enthusiastic "CATHY!!!," which I am sure violated the Chain Smoking Goth Rocker Code of Behavior (I won't turn him in, though). Clearly, I've become a regular, and that means it's time to find a new packy. Plus, my "usual" cooking booze shop only sells things by the gallon, which was starting to bug me, seeing as I generally only need a teaspoon of whatever it is. So I found a different package store, where I am still anonymous, and the man working there actually recommended a small, $8.99 bottle of brandy! I think I've found my new hard liquor home.

The recipe also says to cut up two whole chickens. It's really best if I don't do that. I'm gonna leave that job to the pros. So I cheated and let Piggly Wiggly do the work for me:



Ina is right -- this recipe is not hard, but I found it to be somewhat labor intensive (and imagine if I cut up my own chicken!) Cut up the vegetables. Add the brandy. Ignite the vegetables . . .

David once established a "no flambé" rule for our kitchen during a weekend trip to New Orleans when I started making noise about making my own Bananas Foster. He just knows me really well. But I was already up to my elbows in this recipe before I realized that I was going to have to violate the house anti-flambé laws and torch the liqour. I sent the kids into the den, pulled my hair into a ponytail, said a prayer, and lit the flame. Ina warned me to stand back, but I still was not prepared for the raging inferno. It was at least two feet high for what seemed like ten minutes (but maybe it was only 10 seconds -- it's like when a baby is crying; time passed in slow motion). Only when the flame came down a bit and I knew that the house was not going to burn down was I able to stop shaking long enough to snap this picture:



The chicken, veggies and wine in the pot before it went into the oven:



And the finished stew:



We were kind of "meh" on this one. David said halfway through that wine/pearl onion is not generally his favorite stew genre, and there's really no getting around the wine in coq a vin (or the pearl onions, for that matter). But maybe part of the problem is that Ina says to use a good dry red like burgundy, and I used a cheap cab. And she says to use cognac or a "good brandy," and I used a cheap brandy. I guess I was trying to skate by without turning this dinner into an honest to goodness investment, and I got what I paid for. We actually liked the flavor of the chicken, but I was not a fan of the broth/stew. But the house smelled great while it was cooking, and now I've made coq a vin, so I'm going to call that a success!

ELLIE

The Ellie pick of the week was Cornmeal Crusted Roasted Ratatouille Tart, chosen by the Wiivers

We loved this one. The ratatouille combines eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes. I don't trust regular winter grocery store tomatoes, so I bought grape, which are usually a little more palatable. Roasting them really brought out the flavor:



The crust was really interesting. It combines cornmeal and whole wheat flour with a couple of tablespoons of oil and a couple of tablespoons of butter. Not terrible as far as crusts go. And it really tasted great! The texture was crumbly, but it stayed together, and complemented the vegetables nicely. I think this crust would be good with lots of things, particularly tex-mex flavors.




You pretty much assemble this by layering the vegetables, basil, and cheeses. I thought this was a really pretty dish -- here it is with the vegetables and basil before the final cheese topping:



And here it is when it came out of the oven:



We both really enjoyed this one, and I am sure that I'll make it again. It works equally well on its own as a main course, or as a lovely side dish to accompany some coq a vin if that's how things happen to shake out in your blogging schedule. It's so versatile that way!

Thank you, Bethany and Wiivers, for choosing these really great dishes!

35 comments:

Heather said...

yum! they both look so delicious! ina doesn't really have the whole every woman thing down, huh? sometimes i like her, sometimes i think her recipes - budgetwise and technique wise, are just a bit much. but this coq a vin looks lovely and the ratatouille tart?!?! yum. i love ratatouille! it looks amazingly good!!

Pam said...

Great job! Both recipes look amazing. I've still never tried coq a vin - I may just do it now.

The tart looks great - I love the cornmeal crust.

Mary Ann said...

So that is what the Coq Au Vin was supposed to look like! I kinda did my own thing there. The Ratatouille Tart was amazing. We loved it. I like that you used grape tomatoes. yummy!

Audrey said...

You flamed something! I have always been too scared to do that...maybe because it's more expensive to burn down a whole apartment building. And I'm laughing so hard about Ina as everywoman...she has a beef stew recipe that calls for filet mignon (I kid you not). I buy that same 8.99 brandy for a chicken dish I make ... and I get a secret bad girl thrill whenever I carry it out of the store in a brown paper bag.

Mostly, though, I love to make ratatouille in the summer and am always looking for things to do with the gallon of it that I end up freezing...so this will be on the list for sure! Both look so so good.

Megan said...

Dinner was quite an affair at your house! Everything looks delicious!
I haven't made the coq a vin yet, thank goodness I have until the end of the month.

Jessica said...

Congratulations on finding a new source for all of your cooking booze! I never mind purchasing or having the myriad types of alcohol that I might need for cooking but I very much mind the extra step that's required on my shopping trip. It makes me wish I lived someplace like Florida where they sell alcohol at Walgreens.

I am so impressed by your flaming technique and, truth be told, even more impressed that you managed to snap a picture. That is some dedicated blogging right there. I've never gotten the nerve to flame up alcohol before but I think that this would be a fun dish to try it on. I asked for Ina's new book for Christmas so maybe in 2009 I'll try this out.

The ratatouille tart looks beautiful and tasty. I am definitely going to keep it in the back of my head because it looks like something that would be easy to make in a smaller portion.

Jamie said...

Cathy-
You always crack me up! Both dishes look delicious...I would never cut up a whole chicken either!!! :)

Lady Baker said...

Great post--Flambe photos to boot! That tart sounds really good! As for the Coq, the closest I've come to coq au vin was a short-cut recipe Everyday Food had a few months ago--so bravo for taking that on a la Ina!

Love the slipper story....Who needs the Barefoot Contessa, we've got the Slippered Attorney!

Peggy said...

In my foggy brain dead existence this week, I must have totally missed the part in the recipe that said to flame it? And two chickens? I am really losing it. I am making the tarte tonight, but I think I wish I had made it last night instead of the Coq Au Vin. Glad you had the same feelings about this dish. Sorry you are sick - get over it and get back to work!!!

Maria said...

The tart really looks good!! I think I will try that one!!

What's for Supper? said...

Both of your dishes look great! I had to laugh about your "no flame rule". We have thatin our kitchen too. Unless the Hubster is home!

Jen said...

Cathy - I am so impressed with your flambeing!!! You really are a brave soul! The chicken and the tarte look great. I thought the tarte was wonderful. I used roma tomatoes, but grape tomatoes are a great idea too. I will definitely be making the tart again. Thanks for an entertaining post as always!

CB said...

Totally agree. The tart is a very pretty dish. I am bookmarking for our next swanky pot luck party (is that an oxymoron?). Glad you enjoyed the recipe!
Clara @ iheartfood4thought

chocolatechic said...

The coq au vin was phenomenal.

I had never had it before, and it was sooooo good.

n.o.e said...

I was closing down my computer before heading to the airport, and I'm glad I stopped by to see if it was posting day. A double header! Score! I was laughing so loud, the dogs were giving me odd looks.

Thanks for test driving these - I'll skip the easy coq au vin and head straight to the corn crusted magnificence.

Nancy

The Blonde Duck said...

Oh my God you're like the cooking queen. I made nachos last night and thought I was all things domestic. I think I'll just come to your house for dinner...

leanne said...

Wow you were busy! We loved the tart too! I don't know if I will be brave enough to try the coq au vin. For one I always buy the cheap stuff and now I know that it won't be worth it :)

Natashya said...

Good point about the grape tomatoes, I keep forgetting about them.
You were very industrious last night - I guess you get the night off tonight!
Great dishes :) Also, congrats on damping out the inferno without a hitch.

Summer said...

wow, serious overachiever! They both look awesome.

Barbara Bakes said...

I loved the flambé story. Thanks for sharing!

manetamer said...

Oh Cathy, once again you have me rotflmao! You definitely win the overachiever award, I bow before you for tackling such a meal, on a weeknight just two weeks before Christmas! Lordy, no wonder you walk into rooms and can't remember why you're there (and you're not alone--heck, I know I can't remember an hour ago!)! Excellent job!

Proud Italian Cook said...

And this was your mid week dinner? We just had some lame leftovers! You did a great job, and that flame, I'm so impressed!

natalia said...

Ciao Cathy ! Your late post are great ! I definitely would like to make the pie but maybe will have to substitute winter vegetable . Thanks for visiting !!

Prudy said...

That ratatouille tart looks delicious. It feels crazy to be baking and cooking our assignments during the holidays. Like you I feel like I'm forgetting everything and winding up in all kinds of places on errands but I can't remember what I needed. Tis the season.

Lisa magicsprinkles said...

ANNNNNT NYYYYY! I remember those Price commercials fondly and the days where you went outside after school and didn't come home for hours and your parents didn't know exactly where you were and couldn't call on a cell phone. Your mom would bellow your name loudly (and man it WOULD carry) and like magic you'd hear it and run like hell to get home before she had to call out a second time. Second time = really big trouble.
Glad you didn't get in really big trouble with the flaming pan of poultry and have to bellow for your kids to call 911 :D.

Lisa magicsprinkles said...

Prince. Prince. I still can't type 100% yet.

Melissa said...

I've always wanted to make coq a vin, but it looks so intimidating! I'm happy to see you made it first, now maybe I'll try it!

Pamela said...

The tart looks REALLY good to me and I definitely want to try that. I'm so impressed by all the work you did for the Ina recipe. Good job not hurting yourself with the fire, too! You really are becoming a pro, aren't you?

Debinhawaii said...

Its funny, I cooked from the printed recipe as it was my shopping list and not from the book (I just looked at the picture) and there is no mention of the flambe in that one and it's one chicken. That may be a good thing because I am not good with fire! Both dishes look incredible--great pictures! Quite the dinner at your house!

Lisa said...

I am so impressed that you made both. I loved the coq a vin.

Sylvie, Rappahannock Cook & Kitchen Gardener said...

Cathy, don't blame yourself for disappointing results with Ina's recipe. I greatly admire Ina - generally - , but that recipe is not coq au vin, for two main reasons: it's using a 2-3 pound chicken (i.e. a fryer, which is not suited for long simmering), the chicken is browned for only 5 minutes (no wonder it turns purple when adding the wine) and the sauce is soupy not thick and silky as it should be (Ok, 3 main reasons!)

Coq au vin is not a difficult dish to make but it takes time. That recipe is just too fast for good results.

Following Matt's Posting of Matt's Kitchen, I add to write about what he called a failed experiment and provided a much more authentic recipe on my blog, one I have been making fow a LONG time, if you are interested one day in trying it again.
http://www.laughingduckgardens.com/ldblog.php/2008/12/22/true-coq-au-vin/

And kudos for you for flambeing - that's a step I kip (but then I use vermouth which is much lower in alcohol than brandy)

All the best

Sylvie
http://www.LaughingDuckGardens.com/ldblog.php/

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