Chef discovers a lighter side of coq au vin.
Thomas Francque, the chef at Marche Cafe in the Fifth Street Public Market, offers a main course inspired by the classic French coq au vin for today's edition of The $10 Gourmet. He also suggests sauteed artichokes with homemade aoili as a first course, and a poached pear for dessert.
The main dish is a skinless, boneless chicken leg and thigh browned in bacon fat and then braised with sprigs of thyme in a mixture of red wine and homemade chicken broth. With reduction, this broth becomes a sauce.
During his cooking demonstration, Francque served the chicken on a bed of gently sauteed spinach with new potatoes that were red, white and purple. He topped the chicken with the browned bacon and drizzled on the sauce.
Francque said he chose a menu of fresh ingredients now in season. He even garnished the chicken dish with rosemary flowers and the poached pear with violets, both currently in bloom.
Francque's version of coq au vin is lighter than the traditional one and it doesn't contain mushrooms. That, he said, is because he couldn't afford them on a $10 budget.
The $10 Gourmet is a feature that allows professional cooks to give menu ideas to home cooks by producing a meal for two that costs $10 or less.
Francque calculates that the three dishes he made cost $9.53, not including such common household staples as the olive oil for the aoili and the sugar for the pear-poaching liquid.
Francque submitted his cash register receipts from Market of Choice, Albertsons and Trader Joe's, but we decided to eliminate the normal "Settling the Bill" list of purchases because it could be misleading.
The problem, in several cases, is that Francque did what a homemaker might do and bought more of an ingredient than was needed for just one meal. Then he calculated his cost based on the amount he used rather than the amount purchased. Cash register receipts don't reflect that difference.
For example, the bill from Market of Choice shows he paid $7.11 for a whole fryer. However, his recipe uses only the legs and thighs, which he figures cost $3.55. By purchasing a whole chicken, he left the breasts available for other meals and the rest of the carcass for chicken stock.
Francque, 27, has worked for Marche in various capacities for three years while also studying for an associate's degree of applied science and a culinary certificate. He started cooking in high school as a prep cook at a resort in California's Sierra Nevada and worked at a restaurant in Ashland and at Jo Federigo's Restaurant in Eugene before taking a job with Marche.
His recipes follow:
Chicken Braised in Red Wine
on a Bed of Spinach
With New Potatoes
For the chicken:
2 chicken legs (including the attached thighs)
2 slices bacon
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 clove garlic, finely diced
1/4 cup red wine
1 cup chicken stock
2 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs Italian parsley
Remove the bones from each leg and thigh.
(To do this, cut down the thigh bone and then work your finger under the bone. Place a knife in the opening you have created and cut the thigh muscle away from the bone. Repeat the process with the leg bone. The leg and thigh bones still will be attached at the joint. Scrape with your knife along the bones at the joint until the flesh has been loosened and can be removed in one piece. Trim off the skin.)
Cut bacon across the grain into narrow strips. Fry until almost crispy. Set aside on a paper towel to blot up the fat. Pour off excess bacon fat, leaving 1 teaspoon fat in the frying pan.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper and place in the heated frying pan to brown over medium high heat. Fry until a deep golden brown.
Add diced garlic and saute until you can smell the aroma of garlic, about 10 seconds. Add red wine and boil to reduce the volume of liquid by a third. Add chicken stock, thyme, bay leaf and parsley. Bring to boil, then turn heat to a simmer, cover, and braise the chicken 1/2 hour.
Remove chicken from the pan and strain the braising liquid through washed cheesecloth and a strainer. Reduce the braising liquid to 1/4 cup.
Off the heat, whisk in 1 teaspoon cold butter to finish the sauce.
Serve the chicken on a bed of barely wilted spinach with boiled potatoes (recipes follow). Sprinkle bacon on top of the chicken and spoon on the sauce.
For the potatoes:
1 new red potato
1 new white potato
1 new purple potato
2 tablespoons butter
Squeeze of lemon juice
1 sprig parsley, finely chopped
For a decorative effect, peel off a band of skin from each potato. Place potatoes in a pot of cold, salted water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Potatoes are done when they can be pierced easily. Before serving, slice each potato in half and reheat in butter in a saucepan. Sprinkle with parsley and a few drops lemon juice. Serve 1/2 potato of each color per plate.
For the spinach:
1 bunch spinach, washed, stems removed
1/2 tablespoon water
1/2 tablespoon butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Gently saute spinach in the water and butter, 2 minutes or less. Season with salt and pepper. Don't cook it until limp. The spinach needs body to form a base for the chicken.
4 cups water
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup white wine
2 sticks cinnamon
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1/2 vanilla bean
2 pears, peeled and cored
In a pot large enough to hold 2 pears, bring the water, sugar, wine and other flavoring ingredients to a boil. Add pears and reduce heat to a simmer. Press a sheet of parchment or wax paper down on the pears to serve as a lid. Simmer until tender. (Test by piercing with a skewer.) Chill pears in refrigerator.
Strain the poaching liquid. Boil to reduce the liquid by half its volume. Chill.
To serve, place pear on serving plate and ladle on some of the liquid. Garnish with flowers, if you have them growing in your yard.
Sauteed Artichokes With
Homemade Lemon Aioli
For the artichokes:
2 medium artichokes
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup white wine
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tablespoon butter
Water, as needed
Prepare and quarter the artichokes using the procedure that Matthew Card described in an article titled "Artichokes Made Easy" in the April 2002 issue of Cook's Illustrated magazine. Following are the steps without the magazine's illustrations:
"Holding the artichoke by the stem, bend back and snap off the thick outer leaves, leaving the bottom portion of each leaf attached. Continue snapping off the leaves until you reach the light yellow cone at the center.
"With a paring knife, trim off the dark outer layer from the bottom - this is the base of the leaves you've already snapped off.
"Cut off the dark, purplish tip from the yellow cone of artichoke leaves.
"With a vegetable peeler, peel off the fibrous, dark green exterior of the stem. After peeling, cut off the bottom 1/2 inch of the stem.
"Cut the artichoke in half, slicing from tip to stem.
"Scrape out the small purple leaves and the fuzzy choke with a grapefruit spoon or tomato corer. Drop the trimmed artichoke into a bowl of acidulated water until ready to cook," Cook's Illustrated advises.
For this dish, Francque cuts the artichoke halves into quarters. He also prefers to remove the choke from each quarter with a slanting cut of a knife instead of scraping out the choke.
When ready to cook, pat the artichoke quarters dry with a towel. In a saute pan, heat the olive oil on medium high to near its smoking point. Add the artichoke quarters and brown them, about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and saute it until you can smell its aroma, about 10 to 15 seconds. Be careful not to burn the garlic or it will be bitter. Add white wine and reduce it by boiling. Season with salt and pepper.
Add butter and 1/4 cup water. Turn heat to low and cover the pan. Cook artichoke quarters until tender, about 40 minutes, adding more water each 10 minutes as the water evaporates. Watch closely to prevent burning. To deepen the color and flavor, allow the pan to go almost dry before each addition of water.
For the mayonnaise:
1 egg yolk
1 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
Juice of 1/4 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Whisk egg yolk in bowl. Whisk in oil by drops until a thick emulsion forms. Whisk in garlic and lemon juice. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
The main dish is chicken served with sprigs of thyme in a mixture of red wine and homemade chicken broth. Note: Francque used a hand blender and a coffee mug to make mayonnaise. He put the egg and flavorings in the mug, inserted the hand blender, turned it on and drizzled in olive oil while the blender whirred away. Gourmet: Dishes on chef's menu incorporate flavors of the season Continued from Page E1 Side dishes include a first course of sauteed artichokes, and a poached pear for dessert. Please turn to GOURMET, Page E4 Brian Davies / The Register-Guard