8 ea. chicken leg quarters
1ea. 750ml bottle, dry red wine (about 3 quarts)
5 sprigs fresh thyme (essential)
4 cloves garlic, peeled
4 oz smoky slab bacon, small dice
6 oz bag of peeled, frozen pearl onions
8 oz button mushrooms, quartered
8 oz bag, extra-wide egg noodles
4 tablespoons whole butter, cold and diced
¼ cup chopped, Italian parsley
Two days out:
Clean the chicken of any excess fat, most of which is found near the cut at the point where the thigh originally met the body of the whole bird. Place the thighs in an appropriately sized glass or stainless steel dish, add the garlic and thyme, and pour all the wine into the dish. Cover and place in the refrigerator. Over the next twenty-four hours, move the thighs around in the wine once or twice to insure even exposure to the marinade.
Render the bacon over medium heat in a pan large enough to hold the onions and mushrooms as well. When evenly browned, remove the bacon and excess fat from the pan(reserve the drippings for later), and brown the pearl onions. Remove the onions from the pan and now add the mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms over medium-high heat until they have released most of their moisture and they start to darken. Use more of the bacon fat when you start to cook your mushrooms if the pan seems too dry but remember, too much bacon flavor could over power the finished dish. Combine the bacon, onions, and mushroom and store in the refrigerator until service.
The day before:
Preheat your oven to 325F. Remove the chicken from the red wine, pat dry, and season with salt and black pepper. Sear the chicken on both sides in a hot pan with a touch of vegetable oil and then place in an oven-proof dish deep enough to hold the chicken and all of the marinade. This will be a bit messy; the chicken is going to spatter a bit because of the moisture from the marinade (oil and water don't mix.) Also because of the marinade, the chicken will darken quickly. Don't be afraid to put some blue-black color(caramelization) on these as it will add great flavor.
Put the red wine in a pot big enough to allow three inches of space from its top rim and place over medium-high heat. This next step is the key to stunning coq au vin. As the wine comes to a boil, proteins from the chicken will coagulate and rise to the surface. Patiently wait until the wine comes back to an honest simmer and then skim the impurities from the top. We are basically clarifying the wine(as you would for a consomme) before returning it back to the dish with the chicken. Place the uncovered dish with both wine and chicken into the oven and cook for about 45-60 minutes. The chicken should be loose around the bone but the thigh should still maintain its shape. When cooked, remove the chicken from the wine so the two can cool separately. When the wine is cool remove any fat from the top and discard.
Besides the cooking of the egg noodles, which should happen close enough to the meal so they are straight-out-of-the-water hot, serving the coq au vin is a heat-and-serve affair. Place the chicken and wine in a pot big enough to hold the vegetables and baconas well. Bring to a simmer slowly; add the vegetables,bacon, and chopped parsley; and swirl in the whole butter to give the sauce some body. For each person, place some hot egg noodles in a bowl, place two thighs on top, and bathe with sauce.