Coq au Champagne

Cozy up to the holiday season with the rich and savory flavors of the French classic Coq au Champagne combining simple ingredients with an easy process. Tender chunks of chicken are braised with earthy mushrooms, sweet pearl onions, and the thing that makes all things better, bubbly! So pop open the bubbles and say cheers to comfort food and the classics!

Coq au Champagne

Is there anything more comforting that slicing into fall off the bone tender, juicy, succulent chicken? From the complex warm and spicy bite of Jamaican jerk chicken to this festive twist on a French favorite, it’s just as at home on the holiday table as it is for a Sunday dinner. This easy braised chicken recipe is all about building layers of flavor as well as texture. Easy, elegant, and completely comforting.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Coq au Champagne
  • Simple Process – The most labor-intensive part of this champagne chicken recipe is simply chopping the vegetables. There’s a little work involved with browning the bacon and chicken but other than that this is truly a one pot chicken recipe that lets the oven or grill do the work but braising away.
  • Budget Friendly When you hear champagne you might not think budget friendly, but aside from the bubbly the main ingredient for this coq au champagne recipe is a whole chicken. Using a whole chicken and breaking it down yourself is a great way to save money and feed a family. Plus, everyone can get one they want, light or dark meat.
  • Accessible Ingredients – The braising sauce for this spin on coq au vin blanc utilizes simple ingredients like onions, carrots, and celery along with garlic, mushrooms, and pearl onions. Skip the hassle of peeling pearl onions and reach for the frozen ones. Besides that all you really need is some fresh thyme and the magical ingredient that makes everything better, smoky, salty bacon.

What is Coq au Vin?

Coq au Vin Blanc

Coq au vin literally translates to rooster with wine and is a traditional French countryside peasant dish. Although it comes in many different varieties such as coq au Riesling and coq au vin jaune depending on the region of France and availability of wine, the most popular and traditional version chicken braised with bacon, mushrooms, and Burgundy wine.

This dish is thought to date as far back as the days of Julius Caesar although it wasn’t documented until 1913 by Mathurin Jacques Brisson, a natural philosopher and zoologist. He experienced the dish in the Chaîne des Puys area of the Auvergne region, an area rich with wine.

Julia Child included the recipe for coq au vin in her 1961 cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking and also featured it twice in her cooking shows, making this dish popular for at home cooks in America as well as restaurants. This humble dish that was created to tenderize tougher meat like roosters is embraced in equal parts as comfort food, but also a special occasion dish.

How to Make Coq au Champagne

  • Dry brine your chicken. Break your chicken down into 8-10 pieces. I like to cut the chicken breasts in half so everything cooks more evenly, but this is optional. Generously season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper and place on a wire rack fit into a baking sheet. I also season the chicken with a garlic/shallot blend called Vik’s Garlic Fix. Let the chicken refrigerate for at least a couple hours up to overnight. This will deep season the chicken while also drawing out the moisture and helping brown the skin. If you don’t have a couple hours that’s okay. Let your chicken sit out for 30-60 minutes prior to cooking to come to room temperature.
  • Preheat your oven or grill to 350 degrees. If using a charcoal grill prepare your grill for indirect cooking, banking the charcoal to one side. If using a gas grill gor coq au vin on the grill leave a burner or two off creating a cooler side.
  • Brown the bacon. Heat a larger oven/grill safe braiser or Dutch oven over medium heat and add the bacon. Allow the bacon to cook for 6-8 minutes until it has rendered all of its fat and become crispy. Remove it from the pan.
  • Sear your chicken. Place the chicken skin side down in the hot bacon grease. Don’t over crown the pan. It’s better to work in batches so you brown the chicken instead of steaming it. Allow the first side to brown for 4-6 minutes until golden brown and crispy. Flip the chicken and allow it to cook another four minutes. Remove the chicken and continue with the remaining chicken.
  • Sauté the mirepoix. Remove all but a tablespoon or two of the excess fat from the pan. Add the celery, onions, and carrots and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Allow the vegetables to cook for 4-6 minutes until tender. Add the garlic and cook for a minute.
  • Brown the mushrooms. Add the mushrooms and thyme. Let them cook for 4-6 minutes until they’ve released their liquid and wilted. Stir in the pearl onions, most of the bacon, and bay leaves.
  • Reduce the champagne and bring to a simmer. Add the champagne or sparkling wine to the pan, making sure to scrape up all of brown bits. Let the it continue to simmer until it has slightly reduced, about five minutes. Add the broth and stir to combine.
  • Let the chicken braise. Nestle the chicken into the braising liquid, skin side up. You don’t want it completely submerged. Cover the braiser with a lid and place it in the oven on the middle rack or on the grill on indirect heat. Let it cook for 30-45 minutes or until the chicken is 165 degrees and tender. Remove the chicken from the pan along with the bay leaves.
  • Reduce the sauce. Place the skillet back on the stove on medium heat, or over direct heat on the grill. Stir it occasionally for 15-18 minutes until the liquid has reduced slightly. Stir in the Dijon mustard and taste for seasoning. Place the chicken back into the pan.
  • Garnish the chicken and serve. Sprinkle the reserved bacon over the top along with extra thyme and fresh parsley.

Variations and Substitutions

Coq au Champagne
  • Instead of using a whole chicken you can use your favorite cut of bone in chicken for coq au champagne. Thighs and legs are popular options. You’ll want between 3-4 pounds.
  • For a less smoky flavor that still delivers incredible savory flavor, brown up pancetta instead of bacon. You’ll need around four ounces.
  • If you don’t eat pork, no problem! Skip the bacon and add a couple tablespoons of olive oil along with a couple tablespoons of unsalted butter to brown your chicken.
  • Use fresh pearl onions instead of frozen.
  • Skip the pearl onions and add sliced shallots for sweetness. You’ll want to add 3-4 sliced shallots to the pan when you add the mushrooms.
  • Feel free to swap out the champagne for sparkling wine, prosecco, or cava. You can even use a dry white wine such as pinot grigio for coq au vin blanc instead of coq of champagne.
  • This is the perfect recipe to make on the grill. For grilled coq au vin heat your grill to 350 degrees and place your braiser or Dutch oven over direct heat. Once you are ready to cover it up and let the chicken braise move the pan to the indirect side and allow it to braise for 30-45 minutes, rotating it once or twice.

Tips From the Beach

grilled coq au vin
  • The step of dry brining the chicken isn’t completely necessary and can be skipped if you don’t have the time. However, it’s a great way to deeply season the meat while also ensuring you get crispy skin.
  • When you add your chicken back to the pan before covering it, make sure that it is sitting on top of the sauce and isn’t fully emerged. You want the chicken to braise, not boil.
  • There’s no need to spend a ton of money on champagne. Save the great stuff for drinking and the okay stuff for cooking with. Go with a much more affordable sparkling wine, cava, or prosecco. Just make sure that you enjoy the flavor and that it’s on the dry side.

Make sure to check out Coq au Vin Blanc for a different version of this French classic.

What type of chicken is best for coq au vin?

Because the chicken is braised you’ll want to use bone on chicken. Using a whole chicken that’s been broken down into individual pieces is the traditional option but you can also do all chicken thighs, thighs and drum sticks/legs, or a combination.

Can I use something else besides champagne for coq au champagne?

Yes, any dry sparkling wine, prosecco, or cava will work for this recipe. You can also use dry white wine for coq au vin blanc.

Is coq au vin usually made with red wine?

Most people think of Burgundy wine when they hear coq au vin, but it comes in dozens of different varieties. Because of the vast regional varieties of wine in France you’ll find multiple different versions including coq au violet using Beaujolais nouveau, coq au riesling, and coq au jaune using yellow or white wine.

Are Champagne and sparkling wine the same?

No. True champagne can only be called champagne if it is certified made in the Champagne region of France. It’s a type of sparkling wine.

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Coq au Champagne

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Cozy up to the holiday season with the rich and savory flavors of the French classic Coq au Champagne combining simple ingredients with an easy process. 

  • Author: Nicole Stover
  • Prep Time: 480
  • Cook Time: 90
  • Total Time: 9 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 1x
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: Braising
  • Cuisine: French

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 34 pounds whole chicken, cut into 8-10 pieces*
  • Salt and pepper
  • Garlic seasoning, optional
  • 4 strips thick cut bacon diced or 4 ounces pancetta diced
  • 1 large sweet onion diced
  • 1/2 cup carrot finely diced
  • 1/3 cup celery finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms quartered
  • 1 cup frozen pearl onions
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme chopped, plus extra for serving
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups champagne, sparkling wine, cava, or prosecco
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp flat leaf parsley

Instructions

  1. Remove the backbone from your chicken. Cut the chicken into 8 pieces, 2 wings, 2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 breasts. Cut the breasts in half if desired. You can also have your butcher do this.
  2. Pat the chicken dry. Generously season both sides of the chicken with kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and garlic seasoning if desired. Place the chicken on a baking rack fit into a baking sheet and let it refrigerate for at least two hours up to overnight. 
  3. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature.
  4. Preheat the oven or grill to 350 degrees. If using a charcoal or gas grill set it up for indirect cooking leaving a cooler side.
  5. Heat a large oven/grill safe braiser or Dutch oven over medium heat with the bacon. Cook the bacon until crispy and the fat has rendered, 6-8 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan leaving the fat.
  6. Place the chicken into the hot pan, skin side down, careful not to over crowd the pan. You may need to cook it in batches. Allow it to cook for 6-8 minutes until golden and crispy.
  7. Flip the chicken and sear it another 4 minutes. It will not be cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pan. 
  8. Remove all but 1-2 tbsp of the fat from the pan.
  9. Add the onions, celery, and carrots and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Allow them to cook until tender, about 6 minutes.
  10. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  11. Add the mushrooms and thyme. Let the mushrooms cook until they’ve released their liquid and have wilted 4-6 minutes.
  12. Stir in the pearl onions and bay leaves.
  13. Pour in the champagne or sparkling wine. Allow it to come to a simmer and let it reduce slightly, about 5 minutes.
  14. Add the chicken broth and most of the bacon into the pan and stir to combine. Nestle the chicken pieces on top of the braising liquid and cover with the lid. Place the braiser or Dutch oven on the middle rack of the oven or on the indirect side of the grill.
  15. Let the chicken braise for 30-45 minutes or until it is 165 degrees and tender.
  16. Remove the chicken from the pan and place on a platter. Remove the bay leaves. Place the braiser back over medium heat and bring the braising liquid to a simmer. Let it cook for 15-20 minutes until it has slightly reduced.
  17. Stir in the Dijon mustard and taste for seasoning.
  18. Nest the chicken back into the pan. Sprinkle the remaining bacon over the top along with fresh thyme leave and parsley. 

Notes

  1. You can use your favorite cut of bone in chicken for this. Chicken thighs and legs are popular choices. Stay around that 3-4 pound mark.
  2. It isn’t necessary to dry brine the chicken but does deeply season the meat and help the skin get crisper. You can skip this step if desired.
  3. If you don’t eat pork use 2 tbsp olive oil plus 2 tbsp unsalted butter to brown your chicken. 
  4. For the crispiest skin make sure to brown your chicken in batches. Overcrowding the pan will steam the chicken instead of searing it. 

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