When you think of so many classic French cookbooks coq au vin always jumps out from the page. The cockerel, jointed, marinaded and slow cooked almost ritualistically. It conjures up memories of dark photographs, mahogany tables and brown bowls. These days however the chances of finding a cockerel to actually cook are fading fast, occasionally you’ll find a boiling fowl in an a old school butcher or fishmonger but a cockerel is a rare delicacy indeed. However my poultry farmers of choice, St. Bride’s in Strathaven will occasionally have a couple available, large and almost gamey in flavour this one seemed deserving of the leftover Christmas port when an impromptu gathering was in the offing. With a size more in keeping with a turkey this recipe will easily feed eight with leftovers. Which reminds me I must rescue the feet and giblets from my friend Moira’s freezer.
Cockerel with port and mushrooms
1 cockerel (about 2.5-3 kg) jointed
1 onion chopped
400ml red wine
Oil for frying
200g shallots halved
Bouquet garni of sprig rosemary, 2 sprigs thyme, 3 sprigs parsley wrapped in green leek skin and tied with string
250g chestnut mushrooms
1 tsp sea salt
Marinade the cockerel overnight with onion in the red wine, just enough to cover;
In a heavy based pan melt the butter and add the oil and brown the meat over a medium heat;
Pour over the marinade, add the port, bouquet garni and shallots, and bring to the boil;
Reduce to a simmer and cook covered over a low heat for 1 hour. Add the mushrooms, stir and cook for another 30-45 minutes depending on the size of the bird;
Remove the meat, check is cooked through and rest covered in foil;
Reduce the cooking liquid by about one third over a high heat. Add the meat back to the pan and serve.