The cold weather has begun to set in and so have V.V.'s cravings for warm, comforting soups and stews. My StepMama makes an incredible traditional French chicken and wine stew called Coq au Vin that is swimming with earthy mushrooms, caramelized onions, herbaceous thyme, pungent garlic and rich, robust, red, red wine! According to Mrs. Julia Child, the French eat this stew with boiled, buttered, parsley sprinkled potatoes but I prefer this mouth-watering stew served ladled over roasted garlic mashed potatoes!
The chicken substitute I recommend for this dish is a soy-based simulated 'chick'n' called Gardein (they make so many absolutely AMAZING plant-based meat substitutes, great for new vegetarians or transitioning omnivores who are craving an insanely meaty taste and texture). Superstore Blue Menu makes PC brand meatless chick'n breasts that are made with Gardein and I think Yves makes a meatless chick'n strip product as well. I have made this dish with cubed seitan as well and it turned out delish. You could also use good ol' firm tofu!
A tip about cooking with wine: ALWAYS cook with a wine you would enjoy drinking!! Maybe not the most expensive bottle, but you can easily find a nice bottle for under twelve bucks that will make allllll the difference in your cooking (I put wine in everything) annnnd you can enjoy a glass or two while you slave away in the kitchen ;)
Vegan 'Coq' au Vin
for braised pearl onions:
-20ish pearl onions
-1 tbsp Earth Balance butter
-1 tbsp olive oil
-1 cup veggie stock
for the stew:
-2 tbsp olive oil
-2 tbsp Earth Balance butter
-3 cups mixed sliced mushrooms (I used crimini and shitake. Shitake is UNREAL in the flavour dept)-8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
-4 simulated chick'n fillets, chopped into bite sized pieces, or 1 pkg of strips, or 4 cups of cubed seitan, or 1 brick of cubed firm tofu
-2 tbsp all purpose flour
-2 cups veggie stock
-2 cups dry red wine (try a pinor noir or burgundy)
-1 tbsp tomato paste
-a handful of fresh thyme sprig
-a handful of fresh parsley, very roughly chopped
First, we braise the pearl onions. Drop the onions in a pot of boiling water for two minutes and then transfer them immediately into a bowl of ice water. This will make their skins nice and loosey-goosey. This is your cue to remove the skins! Be careful to keep the onions whole.
Heat the 1 tbsp Earth Balance and 1 tbsp olive oil in a heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the onions to the pan and begin to brown gently, shaking the pan to ensure they brown evenly. Once the onions have begin to show some beautiful brown colour, sprinkle with salt and peppa and add 1 cup of veggie stock. Cover the pan with a lid and simmer the onions for about 15 minutes, or until the onions are quite soft. Remove the lid and cook the onions further until they have absorbed most of the liquid. Set assssssiiide.
Now for the stew!
Melt the remaining Earth Balance and olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped mushrooms and garlic and cook until the mushrooms have significantly reduced in size. Add the "chick'n" and cook until it has browned. Sprinkle the mushrooms and "chick'n" with the flour and add the veggie stock, red wine, tomato paste, thyme sprigs and parsley. Stir well to ensure the sauce isn't lumpy.
Add the braised onions and bring the stew to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 - 20 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced to a rich, thick gravy.
Season with S&P and remove the thyme sprigs.
Serve with mashed potatoes or polenta.
Stay warm, inside and out!