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5 Simple French Dinners

Coq au Vin

Take one tough old chicken, add some aromatics and cook it in wine for a few hours over low heat. The directions may sound like a mushy and tasteless chicken stew, but the result is one of the most savory one-pot meals ever devised by the sly hand of an ingredient genius. Old chickens are characteristically tough. In the U.S., they're sometimes referred to as "stewing" hens. That tough meat has a lot of flavor, though. Once unlocked, the flavor in the meat (and fat), and the thick richness of the rendered collagen from the bird's connective tissues makes that tough old hen a delicacy worthy of a spot on your holiday meal list. It may be harder these days to locate a stewing hen, though. If you can't find one, look for the largest hen at your market, or ask the butcher to order one special. It'll be worth the wait.

We have a few Coq au Vin recipes that illustrate the delicious might of peasant cooking. The French are masters at it.