Coq au vin is thought of as a fancy pants specialty by American standards, but like many French recipes, it comes from a very modest background. Coq au vin – literal translation: rooster with wine – is a rustic, poor-man’s recipe born from the agitated and exhausted farmer who, tired of early wake up calls, chopped the roosters right in their garbling necks and then had to find a use for its meat.
Only the rooster meat wasn’t tender. When roosters spend their waking hours chasing plump-breasted hens, fighting dogs and generally being farmhouse terrors, their meat toughens. If you’ve never spent time on a farm, let me lay it out flat for you: roosters are assholes, and hens are hardly any better, which is why when I eat them, I laugh. I laugh for the time a chicken jumped in my face when I was a preteen and got its claw caught in my golden hair, and also for the time when, unprovoked and out of absolutely nowhere, a rooster flew at me and clawed my arm deep. The Amish farmer shrugged, probably thinking, “what did you expect from an asshole?” I laugh now because the tables have turned, chickens.
Roosters, as high-energy bros with a taste for blood, build tough, fibrous rooster muscles that aren’t really good for roasting, so other methods were employed.
The time-strained farmers of yore would throw the rooster in a stock pot with a bottle of burgundy, lardons or bacon, spring onions, carrots, celery and some herbs – or whatever they had on hand, really – and set it on low to cook while they worked their bones throughout the day.
Oh, hello there.
I know that this is my first post since being back in the States and I bet you think that I’m going to start this post with an introduction that emphatically shouts that I’m back and then predictably go on about how it’s good to be home in spite of how amazing Europe was and then segue into how trying to grocery shop in the States after 3 months of unbelievable European freshness is more painful than a bad case of dengue fever, but you’d be wrong. Let’s instead just skip it altogether and jump right into the good stuff!
Why am I doing a whole post dedicated to bland, boring, plain ol’ rice? Well, for one, rice is a staple for many cultures worldwide — most notably Asian and Hispanic cultures comprising the majority of the world’s population — who annually consume over 400 million tons globally. That’s a lot of rice. Also, there are literally tens of thousands of varieties of rice leaving no shortage of recipe variations. DOUBLE ALSO, it’s one of the most versatile grain in the world as it can be developed into starchy breads, creamy puddings or used as a basic side next to a Sunday night roast chicken. So while it may seem bland and boring on the surface, it has multiple dimensions to it and loads of potential to be made into a variety of impressive dishes.
I may have also forgot to mention that it’s incredibly easy to screw up, but worry not because I’m going to be your rice savior. By the end of this post you might be bowing your heads to a new divine being altogether: in rice we trust.