Coq à la bière is the kissing cousin of coq au vin. While the wine version is popular from Bordeaux and onwards south from there, beer versions are common on family dinner tables in the north of France. In the famous TV series Floyd on France, Keith Floyd attributed coq à la bière to Alsace, which makes some sense when you think of the bière d’Alsace.
The peculiar thing about the recipe given here is the book I got it from. Coq à la bière is a very simple, rustic French family dish that would typically be served to the centre of a Sunday table, along with mountains of crusty bread and fresh greens. However, the same dish also makes an entirely unrefined appearance in the cook book of Le Gavroche by Michel Roux Jnr.
Coq à la bière has slid off the Gavroche menu, along with the famous cannon of lamb, so there is no reference as to how a double Michelin-starred kitchen would present something quite this basic, but that is no matter. The point is to make it, share it and taste it.
Coq à la bière
- 1 free-range, corn-fed chicken
- Olive oil and butter
- 50g shallots, finely chopped
- 200g button mushrooms, wiped and sliced
- 2 tbsp brandy
- 330ml English bitter beer
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 200ml double cream
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 220˚C.
Put the chicken on its side in Dutch oven with a little olive oil and some butter, and roast in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes, basting the bird several times during cooking, turning it on its other side and finally on to its back, breast upwards. When cooked, transfer the chicken on to a plate, breast side down so that the juices permeate the meat while it rests.
Discard the fat from the roasting pan and add a knob of fresh butter. Add the shallots and sweat over a low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until translucent. Add the mushrooms and cook for a further 3 minutes, then pour in the brandy and scrape the bottom of the pan with the spoon to deglaze it fully. When almost dry, stir in the beer and sugar, and reduce by half. Add the cream and reduce again to a light sauce consistency. In Floyd’s Alsace show, the sauce was refreshed with a little splash of fresh beer to let the flavour come through.
Joint the chicken into a dish and pour over the sauce. Serve with some crusty French bread.