Jan 03 2011
SOUTH AFRICA╬ô├╢┬╝Γö£├¡polo playing celebrity, sartorial sensation and all round tough-guy Nicky van der Walt was not the only one feeling cocky around New Year. Van der TwatΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗s cockiness made headlines when he got into a bit of hand-to-hand combat at a trendy CampΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗s Bay watering hole with some poor teenager who was almost knocked unconscious by the silicone-enhanced tits donned by the TwatΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗s girlfriend and equally vacuous socialite, Lee Ann Liebenberg.
╬ô├╢┬╝Γö£├¡I, well I was feeling much more peaceful than the Twat, choosing to express my New Year cockiness by chopping the head of a chicken. Pretty boring, I know, but then I had not Γò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£Γöñ like the Twat, his Tits and his Cronies Γò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£Γöñ been sophisticatedly swigging Dom Perignon and Veuve Cliquot from the bottle. (Die Antwoord obviously not being╬ô├╢┬╝Γö£├¡the only White Trash around.)
The reason for killing the chicken was for my annual New YearΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗s coq au vin, traditionally served at my humble abode on 2 January. And we are not talking any chicken. We are talking a real cock. As in a farm-run rooster.
The rooster originated from the farm of Bergsoom in the Citrusdal region. Proprietor Margaret McGregor had offered the rooster to me after he had started behaving in an irritable way. He had taken to chasing cats trailing╬ô├╢┬╝Γö£├¡his humungous schlong behind him, fighting with dogs and having his way with the farmΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗s bevy of female geese, guinea-fowl and Syrian hamsters. Hence our decision to call him Nicky.
In any event, if you are going to make coq au vin, try a real farm chicken, preferably a hardy, randy rooster like Nicky╬ô├╢┬╝Γö£├¡as the traditional Burgundian recipe requests. The flesh has a tight-grained, meaty consistency and slight gamey, naturally spicy flavour which enhances the rich wine sauce.
To kill the chicken, take a deep breath. Look Nicky in the eye. Brace yourself and accept the fact that the chicken was raised to provide sustenance for man. Say a prayer for the life you are about to take. Tell yourself you can do it.
Then call over one of the farm workers, point to the chicken, and pay him R20 to slaughter the thing, pluck it, chop off the head and feet, and take out the guts.
There. Not so hard was it?
Next step is to cut the bird into portion sized-pieces. Grab a bottle of Pinot NoirΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö¼┬¼.
Yes, Pinot Noir. Of course, one is tempted to take a short cut, but Pinot NoirΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗s acid-fruit ratio makes other wines like Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinotage pale in comparison as coq au vin cooking partner.
Chuck the chicken pieces into a bowl, empty the Pinot Noir onto the bird, add two bay-leaves and cover the bowl. Allow the bird and wine to mingle for 24 hours.
From here on itΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗s simple.
- Brown a cup of chopped bacon in an oiled pan and remove.
- Add chicken to the pan and brown, ending the process by flamb╬ô├╢┬ú╬ô├«├ëing the meat with a quarter cup of cognac.
- Return bacon to the pan, as well as the wine in which the chicken was left to marinade. Add salt and pepper, as well as a bouquet garni of thyme, bay-leaf and parsley.
- While the chicken is cooking, take a pan, chuck in 3 table-spoons of butter and once melted, pop-in 2 cups of peeled pearl onions. Gently simmer the onions in the butter for about 30 minutes. This allows the onions to take-on delicious sweetness as the sugars are unleashed.
- Remove onions and chuck two cups of whole button mushrooms to the pan. Cook these for about 10 minutes and remove.
- Once the chicken has been simmering for an hour, add the cooked onions and mushrooms to the party. Cook everything together for another 15 minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken, onions and mushrooms from the pan until you are left with the sauce. Place the removed pieces on a serving dish.
- Thicken sauce with two tablespoons of flour mixed with one of soft butter. The sauce is now╬ô├╢┬╝Γö£├¡silky and wine-coloured. Pour over the chicken, onions and mushrooms and serve with rice, crusty bread and a green salad.
Drink with a Pinot Noir, preferably not from the bottle and no big-knockered women in sight. You never know when a TwatΓò¼├┤Γö£├ºΓö£├╗s looking.
- Darien Morgan, Cooking Correspondent