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Coq au Vin (French Chicken Stew) Made Magic

If you ever wanted to feel expensive without breaking the bank, this dish is it.

Coq au Vin, French Cuisine, Date Night, Romantic, Weeknight, One Pot Meal, Slovenian, Magic, Kitchen Witch, Witchcraft, Correspondence

So, the first time I ever had Coq au Vin, it was at a little local restaurant in my area, Pot au Feu. Rhode Island often has Restaurant Weeks, where participating restaurants will have a special menu available for fixed prices. It's a lovely way to give new places a try, and while my partner and I have our go-to restaurants for nights out (typically Thai, Indian, or Japanese), I wanted to step outside our usual date night spaces and try out this French space.

The food there was delicious! And the Coq au Vin stuck with me, so much that I wanted to recreate it at home. So I searched and found Once Upon a Chef's recipe, which I tailored a little to suit my own tastes more (namely in reducing the amount of mushroom and switching panchetta for bacon (and increasing the amount of bacon a bit). I also tend not to throw out all that fat that the bacon and chicken let out, because the flavor they lend to the onions is just richer than what you get from olive oil.

And I know I said that this meal will help you avoid breaking the bank, but this dish does have two important (and, depending on how wild you want to get, expensive) components: cognac (or brandy) and merlot.

Personally, when I cook with alcohol, I don't get the expensive stuff (or I don't get alcohol for cooking that I wouldn't already have around for drinking), so these bottles only run about 10-15 dollars, and you don't use the whole thing, so you can have a glass of wine with your stew when it's done! More expensive alcohol will certainly give a different flavor, but the flavor you get with the affordable liquors (granted they're still at a minimum quality standard) are very, very good.

And given that wine plays such an important part in the flavor here, I think it's only fair to denote just how it can be used magically—especially if you know what kind of wine you're using. For my recipes, I often use either Josh's Merlot or J. Lohr's Merlot, which according to the latter's fact sheet, has grapes harvested "on September 24th to capture fresh plum and bright raspberry flavors. Generous additions of Malbec and Cabernet Franc add juiciness to the palate and aromatic sophistication." Josh's, on the other hand, focuses more on blueberry and raspberry, with chocolate and vanilla notes. A very romantic blend, no matter the brand!

It's a good wine to drink, a good wine to cook with, and not ungodly expensive. A win-win. And when you know the flavor profiles that make it up, as well as the associations of wine itself, it's all the better. So let's take a look at what makes this meal so perfect for enchantments of love (including self love), courage, fertility, lust, and strength.

Magic in Coq au Vin

So, it should come as no surprise that wine, especially red wine, has had cultural and religious significance throughout the ages. From the cult of Dionysus (and by extent, Bacchus) to the Catholic rite of transmuting wine into the blood of Christ, red wine is powerful as a symbol of vitality, kinship, and joy. (And, of course, you might also grab a glass and swirl it around, building your own understanding and associations with it, like this Tumblr user did based on flavor/note/etc..) In Slovenia, St. Martin's Day is an especially important feast on November 11, even sometimes called the "Autumn Pust," and it centers itself square in the middle of the wine-making season, after the harvest of grapes (a big deal, because Slovenia has the oldest grape vine in the world—one that's still producing to this day!).

Red wine itself is therefore extremely powerful as its own symbol (and its base, grape, is incredibly powerful on its own, with themes of fertility, mental powers, and money), but when you look deeper into the type of wine you're using and the flavors present—Merlot's case, raspberry, all about love of all kinds and protection—you can capture extra magical meaning. Combine that with carrot, thyme, & bay in this luxurious dish, which deal in, respectively, fertility and lust, aphrodisiac/love and protection, and strength and healing, you have something that will absolutely make you feel the love in the air.

The elements of fire and water, along with the planets Mars, the Sun, the Moon and Venus, work together to not only combine the romantic aspects and fiery, ambitious aspects of these planets, but to tie them together under the golden light of the Sun, shining with strength and confidence. They work together, bringing balanced energy that can extend to a myriad of settings: maybe you were looking for a perfect date night dinner, to impress your lover and invoke a spirit of romance and beauty and confidence. Or maybe you were looking to make this for the family, as something restorative, full of healing and power, brimming with honest, unconditional love. Maybe you just want to make this for yourself, because you are worth the effort, and you deserve your own love, deserve confidence and power.

However you decide to use it, this is the dish to meditate as you make, to savor and relish in. If you ever wanted to feel glorious, this meal will do it for you.

Coq au Vin (French Chicken Stew)

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 60 minutes

Makes 4-6 Servings



Bacon, cut small


Cremini Mushrooms, sliced

4-5 Large

Chicken Thighs, bone in, skin on

1 Large

Onion, diced

4-6 Cloves

Garlic, minced

2 1/2 Cups

Merlot Wine

1/4 Cup

Cognac or Brandy

2 1/2 Cup

Chicken Broth (or water & bouillon)

1 Big Spoonful

Tomato Paste

3 Large

Bay Leaves

2 tsp

Dried Thyme

2 tsp

Balsamic Vinegar

1 1/5 tsp


3 Large

Carrots, peeled & cut into pieces

4 Tbsp

Unsalted Butter

4 Tbsp


Salt & Pepper

To Taste


  • Sauté bacon until crispy. Set aside and drain half the fat from pot.

  • Salt & pepper your chicken thighs, then brown them on each side (don't cook through completely). Set them aside.

  • In this pot full of fat, fry your onions until golden brown, then deglaze the pot with 1/4 cup cognac.

  • When cognac has evaporated, add your wine, broth, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, thyme, bay leaves, and sugar. Bring to a boil, then let it simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.

  • Add chicken and juices to pot, along with chopped carrots, then cover and simmer on low for another 30 minutes, or until carrots are soft.

  • Meanwhile, fry your mushrooms and mix 4 Tbsp of softened or melted butter with 4 Tbsp of flour.

  • After 30 minutes, remove your chicken, take the bones and skin off, and shred the meat with two forks.

  • Return the meat to pot, add the flour/butter mix, and simmer for another 10 minutes until it thickens.

  • Add the bacon and mushrooms to the pot at the very end.

  • Serve with rice, potatoes, or fresh bread!

This is my partner's favorite meal that I make. It's a bit of effort, but it's beautiful, really. An absolute must for those nights that you want to feel like you're ruler of the world (and share that feeling with your partner in a romantic sense, or your loved ones in a familial sense). Enjoy!

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