Going Continental

Going Continental

Back when I was in high school – the cool kids took Spanish and the nerdy, aloof, artsy types took French.

I took French.

Not because I was the nerdy type (although I was), but it was due to in part of the annual foreign language dinner. You see, the Spanish kids got to eat at El Chico’s. And as I had eaten there a thousand times, it was no great event. However,the French class got to go to Emile’s on Lucky Street in Atlanta, and have Coq au Vin.

Let’s look at that statement…

Emile’s – Widely acclaimed French restaurant that gained a huge following in the late 50’s and 60’s for their classic traditional Parisian fare.

Lucky Street – Once the hub of downtown activity and the home of many fine mainstays of Atlanta dining – Emile’s, Herrin’s Steakhouse, The Diplomat, and the Ambassador. Unfortunately, by the time I had made my way there, the once proud dining district had been reduced to dimly lit streets, strip clubs and the failing Playboy Club beckoning all with its flickering neon bunny ears.

Coq Au Vin… seriously, what’s not to love. Chicken, wine, mushrooms, wine, gravy, wine……

So… buckle up mon petit chou… we’re going to France!

Coq Au Vin
Serves 6 to 8

1 Rooster (Ideally what you want is a rooster, but if you can’t find one…or bear to kill one yourself… look for a Capon in the market – Cut him up into 8 pieces) ((If you prefer to use regular chicken – get a 5 to 7 pound package of Leg Quarters – remember you are trying to simulate a rooster, so stick with the darker, heartier meat.))
1 Bottle of Good, Hearty Burgundy
6 Ounces Slab Bacon – Cubed
1/2 Pound White Button Mushrooms
24 Pearl Onions – Peeled
3 Cloves of Garlic – Smashed
2 Large-ish Carrots – Peeled and Quartered
1 Good Serving Spoon sized knob of Lard or Butter
1 Bouquet of herbs: 2 Sprigs of Thyme, 1 Celery Stalk and 1 Bay Leaf, tied together with string
3 Tablespoons Parsley – Chopped
Salt and Pepper
1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/4 Cup of Cognac or Brandy
1 Dutch Oven
1 Large Skillet

  • A day in advance, clean and cut the rooster/chicken in 8 pieces.
  • Place the chicken in the dutch Oven and pour the bottle of red wine over.
  • Add the small white onions, the quartered peeled carrots and the herbs to the chicken pot.
  • Cover and put in the fridge overnight.
  • The next day, remove and drain the chicken and vegetables. Put the wine aside for later use.
  • Place the chicken, salt pepper and flour in a large baggie and shake to coat thoroughly.
  • Heat the skillet over medium high heat with the lard / butter
  • Brown the chicken pieces.
  • Remove the chicken.
  • Using the same skillet, Add the garlic, bouquet of herbs, onions and carrots and saute for 3 minutes
  • Place the dutch over on medium high heat and add the cognac / brandy (when the brandy is warm, flame the pot and burn off the excess alcohol)
  • Add the chicken and the vegetables to the pot
  • Pour the reserved wine in the dutch oven and add salt and pepper to taste
  • Preheat oven to 325
  • Cover and cook in the oven for 2 hours
  • With the large skillet in medium heat
  • Heat bacon and mushrooms in a skillet until brown (10 minutes)
  • When the chicken is ready (in 2 hours), add bacon and mushrooms to the pot and stir for 2 or 3 minutes. Taste
  • Add the parsley to the chicken when finished.  Serve with Lyonnaise Potatoes

 Lyonnaise Potatoes
Serves 8

2 pounds White Dense Potatoes (like Russet)
2 Tablespoons Oil
4 Large Onions – peeled and thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons Garlic – Chopped
1/2 Cup Butter
Salt – to taste
Fresh Ground Black Pepper – to taste
2 Tablespoons Parsley – Minced
1 Large Skillet
1 Large Sauce Pan
1 Large Mixing Bowl
1 Spatula

  • Preheat oven to 400
  • Peel potatoes and cut into 1/2 inch slices.
  • Place sliced potatoes in a pot and cover with water and bring to a boil.
  • Boil for 2 minutes, drain and set aside.
  • Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Pour in oil, onions and saute until lightly caramelized, (about 10 minutes.)
  • Add garlic and saute until onions are deep brown in color and the garlic is soft.
  • Transfer onion mixture to a bowl.
  • Place skillet back on stove over low heat.
  • Melt butter and cover bottom of pan with 1/3 of the potatoes.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Cover the potato layer with 1/2 of the onion mixture.
  • Cover with 1/2 of remaining potatoes and season with salt and pepper.
  • Spread the top with the rest of onion mixture and cover with the remaining potatoes
  • Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes, or until potatoes are tender and browned on top.
  • Remove from oven and use a spatula to carefully transfer potatoes to a serving platter.
  • Sprinkle with minced parsley just before serving.

French Peas
Serves 6

1 Pound of Early English Peas
1 Head Butter Lettuce – Shredded
1 Shallot – Minced
2/3 Cup Chicken Stock
1 Tablespoon Butter
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
Pinch of Sugar
1 Large Sauce Pan

  • On Medium High heat, add the oil and butter to the sauce pan
  • Fry the shallot until tender
  • Add the shredded lettuce and cook until the lettuce is wilted and soft.
  • Add the peas and stock
  • Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Add salt, pepper and sugar to taste
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