Blogiversary Dinner Party: Part 2
For those of you who didn’t catch my last post, this past Saturday night I hosted a dinner party to celebrate 1 year of Allison Eats. We began our evening with Dijon Shrimp Salad served in Endive Cups; a pretty easy appetizer that you can make a day ahead (aside from assembly), its a light, fresh dish to whet your appetite for the rest of the meal.
Following our starter, I served a cheese course. Last Christmas Scott’s brother gave us a cute little dish for baking brie, which I was excited to finally use! So I baked up a small round of Camembert and served it with Fig & Onion Tarts: Simply roll out one sheet of puff pastry, spread on some fig jam and sprinkle with diced onions sauteed in balsamic. Bake at 350 degrees until the edges are lightly browned, slice and serve. This was definitely a big hit! The ooey-gooey cheese smeared onto these sweet buttery tarts was perfection. Along with this standout component, I also served some sliced Gruyere and a Spanish ash-rinded goat cheese (the perfect combo of clean goat and stinky blue cheese flavors!), along with blackberry-shallot compote.
Now onto the pièce de résistance! For my main entree I decided to serve Coq au Vin. I actually fell in love with this dish while it was served inside a crepe at Cafe Beaumonde here in Philly. This hearty, rich and mouth-watering dish is a French classic that was fairly simple to make in my Le Creuset. (For those of you familiar with my cold-weather season posts, you’ll recall my fondness for dutch oven meals!) There are a lot of ingredients and steps to this one, however, so I recommend you chop and prep everything in advance, grouped in bowls by what goes into the pot together. I also recommend you have a splatter screen handy, as browning the chicken legs gets a little treacherous! This was a great choice of dish for a dinner party, as it has to cook in the oven for an hour and a half, which enabled me to actually relax (for the most part!) and enjoy my company. In my opinion, one major hosting faux-pas is when you spend all your time working in the kitchen and your guests barely get to see you!
Anyway, I served this dish over some simple roasted red and white sweet potatoes (olive oil, S+P, a little brown sugar, some fresh thyme), which worked well since they fit in the oven with the Coq au Vin (just make sure you have two timers- 40 minutes should do it for the ‘taters).
Coq au Vin (from Williams Sonoma)
- 1 bottle (750ml) Pinot Noir
- 5 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs, plus 2 Tbs. finely chopped parsley
- 3 fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 leek (cut lengthwise)
- 6 oz. thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 3 1/4 lb. whole chicken legs (I trimmed the fat a bit and separated the drumsticks from the thighs)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 lb. small button mushrooms (I only found larger ones, so I sliced em)
- 3/4 lb. shallots, halved
- 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 Tbs. tomato paste
- 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
- 1 3/4 cups chicken broth
- 3/4 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
Preheat an oven to 350°F. In a large saucepan over high heat, boil the wine until reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Place the parsley sprigs, thyme sprigs and bay leaf against the cut side of the halved leek and tie with kitchen twine. Set aside.
In a 5 1/2-quart Dutch oven over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Discard all but 2 Tbs. of the fat from the pot. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Set the pot over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, brown the chicken, turning once, 8 to 10 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate.
Discard all but 2 Tbs. of the fat from the pot. Return the pot to medium-high heat, add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
Reduce the heat to medium and melt the butter. Add the garlic, tomato paste and flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the reduced wine and the broth, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Add the bacon, chicken, mushroom mixture, carrots and bouquet garni. Cover, transfer to the oven and bake until the chicken is tender, about 1 1/2 hours.
Transfer the chicken to a plate. Skim the fat off the sauce, set the pot over medium-high heat and simmer until the sauce is thickened, 12 to 15 minutes. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. Discard the bouquet garni. Return the chicken to the pot. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.