Julia Child's Birthday & Coq au Vin

Chicken in Red Wine with Onions, Mushrooms, and Bacon

"In France it is usually accompanied only by parsley potatoes; buttered green peas could be included if you wish a green vegetable." from Mastering the Art of French Cooking

In honor of Julia's birthday, Father Adam and I are making the meal as she recommends. Our potatoes are parsleyed and our peas are buttered and tossed with chopped fresh mint.

Montecito, California

Adjacent to the city of Santa Barbara, lies beautiful Montecito. A while back my mother and I had lunch at the charming Montecito Inn.

After lunch, we decided to drive up the road to visit the Casa Dorinda and see where Julia Child spent her last years.

This assisted living facility is a sprawling complex, the former estate of a wealthy nature lover. Julia occupied a cozy one bedroom apartment. She decorated her little kitchen walls with cookware and tools just like she had at her home in Cambridge.

In addition to cooking and camaraderie, another of Julia's passions was golf. I like to imagine that it gave her pleasure to have this pretty little green at the Casa Dorinda. Perhaps she played there?

Back to the kitchen and her Coq au Vin recipe...

Bacon is simmered in water, then dried and sautéed in hot butter until lightly brown. A whole chicken, cut-up, is then browned in the fat. Cognac is added to the pan.

Another reason to love Julia's cooking - many of her recipes include lighting them on fire! Tip the pan and ignite the cognac.

After the flames subside, add 3 cups of good red wine and enough beef stock to cover the chicken. Stir in tomato paste, mashed garlic, thyme and bay leaf and bring to a simmer. This is another one of those times where I wish you could smell the aromas...Cover and cook 25-30 minutes.

Meanwhile make brown-braised pearl onions and sautéed mushrooms.

We thought Julia would be pleased that we sautéed french bread in clarified butter, in her honor, to make croutons for the coq au vin.

When the chicken is cooked, remove it to a platter then skim the fat from the sauce. Raise the heat and reduce the sauce. Beat beurre manié into the sauce to thicken, adjust seasoning. Add the chicken, bacon, onions and mushrooms back to the pot, heat through and serve.

The complete recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking can be found here. And oh my, the sauce was so flavorful, rich and velvety!

In honor of Julia's birthday, August 15th, Lisa of Champaign Taste is hosting the third annual Julia Child Birthday Celebration. Lisa's was the very first food blog I ever read. I was hosting a Julia-style dinner party in my home and was searching the web for some inspiration, and stumbled upon her first Julia event post. I was excited to read it not only for the ideas, but Lisa lives in Champaign Illinois, which is where I attended college. Please visit Champaign Taste for the round-up of Julia Child dishes from around the globe.

I leave you with the last paragraph from My Life in France:
"Such was the case with the Sole Meunière I ate at La Couronne on my first day in France, in November 1948. It was an epiphany. In all the years since that succulent meal, I have yet to lose the feelings of wonder and excitement that it inspired in me. I can still almost taste it. And thinking back on it now reminds me that the pleasures of the table, and of life, are infinite - toujours bon appetit!"

Last year, I truly enjoyed recreating that very meal in my kitchen (here).

Happy Birthday and Thank You Julia Child!