August 17, 2004


Coq au vin from Mastering the Art of French Cooking

From the editor

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      Last week, America lost a national treasure—and Knopf lost a beloved author. Julia Child made the art of French cooking accessible, transforming the way America cooks. In this newsletter, we offer you a recipe for the classic Coq au Vin, from Julia's landmark first book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Plus, below you will find an essay from Julia's lifelong editor and friend, Judith Jones, and links to a variety of Julia tributes from national publications.


      Ashley Gillespie


"Life itself is the proper binge." --Julia Child
Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Cooking - French
October 2001

Order your copy online


A 3- to 4-ounce chunk of lean bacon

A heavy, 10-inch, fireproof casserole

2 Tb butter

2 1/2 to 3 lbs. cut-up frying chicken

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

1/4 cup cognac

3 cups young, full-bodied red wine such as Burgundy, Beaujolais, Côtes du Rhône, or Chianti

1 to 2 cups brown chicken stock, brown stock or canned beef bouillon 1/2 Tb tomato paste

2 cloves mashed garlic

1/4 tsp thyme

1 bay leaf

12 to 24 brown-braised onions

1/2 lb. Sautéed mushrooms

Salt and pepper

3 Tb flour

2 Tb softened butter

A saucer

A rubber spatula

A wire whip

Sprigs of fresh parsley

For 4 to 6 people

Coq au Vin
(Chicken in Red Wine with Onions, Mushrooms, and Bacon)

This popular dish may be called coq au Chambertin, coq au Riesling, or coq au whatever wine you use for its cooking. It is made with either white or red wine, but the red is more characteristic. In France it is usually accompanied only by parsley potatoes; buttered green peas could be included if you wish a green vegetable. Serve with it a young, full-bodied red Burgundy, Beaujolais, or Cotes du Rhone.

Remove the rind and cut the bacon into lardoons (rectangles 1/4 inch across and 1 inch long). Simmer for 10 minutes in 2 quarts of water. Rinse in cold water. Dry.

Sauté the bacon slowly in hot butter until it is very lightly browned. Remove to a side dish.

Dry the chicken thoroughly. Brown it in the hot fat in the casserole.

Season the chicken. Return the bacon to the casserole with the chicken. Cover and cook slowly for 10 minutes, turning the chicken once.

Uncover, and pour in the cognac. Averting your face, ignite the cognac with a lighted match. Shake the casserole back and forth for several seconds until the flames subside.

Pour the wine into the casserole. Add just enough stock or bouillon to cover the chicken. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic, and herbs. Bring to the simmer. Cover and simmer slowly for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and its juices run a clear yellow when the meat is pricked with a fork. Remove the chicken to a side dish.

While the chicken is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms (see recipes below).

Simmer the chicken cooking liquid in the casserole for a minute or two, skimming off fat. Then raise heat and boil rapidly, reducing the liquid to about 2 1/4 cups. Correct seasoning. Remove from heat, and discard bay leaf.

Blend the butter and flour together in a smooth paste (beurre manie). Beat the paste into the hot liquid with a wire whip. Bring to the simmer, stirring, and simmer for a minute or two. The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.

Arrange the chicken in the casserole, place the mushrooms and onions around it, and baste with the sauce. (*) If the dish is not to be served immediately, film the top with stock or dot with small pieces of butter. It can now wait indefinitely. Shortly before serving, bring to the simmer, basting the chicken with the sauce. Cover and simmer slowly for 4 to 5 minutes, until the chicken is hot through.

Serve from the casserole or arrange on a hot platter. Decorate with sprigs of parsley.


18 to 24 peeled white onions about 1 inch in diameter

1 1/2 Tb butter

1 1/2 Tb oil

A 9- to 10-inch enameled skillet

1/2 cup of brown stock, canned beef bouillon, dry white wine, red wine, or water

Salt and pepper to taste

A medium herb bouquet: 4 parsley sprigs, 1/2 bay leaf, and 1/4 tsp thyme tied in cheesecloth

Oignons Glaces a Brun
(Brown-braised Onions)

Brown-braised onions are used whenever you wish a brown effect, such as in brown fricassees like coq au vin and boeuf bourguignon, or in a mixture with other vegetables.

When the butter and oil are bubbling in the skillet, add the onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling the onions about so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect to brown them uniformly.

Pour in the liquid, season to taste and add the herb bouquet. Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet.


A 10-inch enameled skillet

2 Tb butter

1 Tb oil

1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms, washed, well dried, left whole if small, sliced or quartered if large

Champignons Sautés au Beurre
(Sautéed Mushrooms)

Use these mushrooms either as a vegetable alone or in a combination with other vegetables, or as an integral part of such dishes as coq au vin, boeuf bourguignon, poulet en cocotte. Successfully sautéed mushrooms are lightly browned and exude none of their juice while they are being cooked; to achieve this the mushrooms must be dry, the butter very hot, and the mushrooms must not be crowded in the pan. If you sauté too many at once they steam rather than fry; their juices escape and they do not brown. So if you are preparing a large amount, or if your heat source if feeble, sauté the mushrooms in several batches.

Place the skillet over high heat with the butter and oil. As soon as you see that the butter foam has begun to subside, indicating that it is hot enough, add the mushrooms. Toss and shake the pan for 4 to 5 minutes. During their sauté the mushrooms will at first absorb the fat. In 2 to 3 minutes the fat will reappear on their surface, and the mushrooms will begin to brown. As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from heat.

Excerpted from MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH COOKING by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck. Copyright 2001 by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


A Look Back... With Editor Judith Jones


"It was in the spring of 1960, as I recall, when a very hefty manuscript—a treatise on French cooking by an American woman, Julia Child, and two French co-authors, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle—landed on my desk at Knopf. It had been sent from Cambridge by Avis de Voto, who worked as a scout for the Knopfs. She was the wife of the historian and writer, Bernard de Voto, who had had a lively transatlantic correspondence with Julia on the subject of knives. Avis soon became involved in the project that Julia was working on in Paris with Mesdames Beck and Bertholle and wanted to find an American publisher for their book." --Judith Jones, 1998
Read more from this essay

Plus, read how Mastering was made from Judith Jones' introduction to the anniversary edition in 2002, and view her original reader's report.


Paying tribute:

From coast-to-coast, Julia Child was revered. Here is a small sample of the amazing tributes we've seen online:

The New York Times
A compilation of all Julia Child features published in the newspaper in the past twenty years, including an audio slideshow, interactive forum, and recipes.

Julia Child's Kitchen at the Smithsonian
An interactive tour of the kitchen with stories about Julia Child's life and work.

NYC Eats
On the New York City based foodie blog, there is a roundup of links to other bloggers honoring Julia.

The Julie/Julia Project
A blog by Julie Powell, a self-proclaimed "government drone by day, renegade foodie by night." She set out to cook every recipe in Mastering and writes about it, every step of the way.


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