Chicken cooked in spiced wine with parsnip polenta

Chicken cooked in spiced wine with parsnip polenta

William Meppem

This is an interpretation of the classic coq au vin. The chicken is great cooked ahead of time and reheated, so it is an excellent dish for a dinner party. All you will need to do on the day is prepare the garnishes. There are many ways of cooking a traditional coq au vin, but I prefer to use the whole chicken as opposed to just the legs for the different textures of the meat. The spices give the dish a real wintery feel and complex flavour. Use a large chicken as it will yield a lot more flavour than a small one. You might like to transfer the cooked chicken and garnishes to a rustic casserole and serve in the centre of the table, with the polenta and parsnips on the side, letting your guests help themselves.


Quantity Ingredient
1 2.4 kg free-range chicken
1 1/2 litres shiraz
1 red onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 head of garlic, halved horizontally
4 field mushrooms, sliced
8 large shallots
1/2 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns
2 cinnamon sticks
1 star anise
1/2 teaspoon crushed juniper berries
100ml extra-virgin olive oil
50ml olive oil
150g quince paste
1 litre Chicken stock
1 litre Veal jus
1 Bouquet garni for meat dishes
1 tablespoon sugar

Parsnip polenta

Quantity Ingredient
600g parsnip purée
1 quality Warm poached egg with truffles, reggiano and soft polenta


Quantity Ingredient
1 quince, poached
1 tablespoon sugar
8 baguette croutons
8 Crisp pancetta rashers
salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 small field mushrooms, stalks removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 parsnips, quartered lengthwise
handful rosemary sprigs
2 garlic cloves
50ml peanut oil
100g butter


  1. Prepare the chicken a day before you intend to serve the dish. Working on a large chopping board, use a sharp knife to remove the chicken’s legs and cut each leg in half between the joint of the drumstick and thigh. Put in a deep container. Cut straight down the centre of the breast joint, as close to the bone as possible. Turn each breast joint on its side, breast side down, and remove any excess rib cage with the knife, then cut each breast in half widthwise. Add to the container and cover with shiraz, then add the vegetables and spices. Massage into the chicken pieces and drizzle with extravirgin olive oil and marinate overnight, for at least 6–8 hours.
  2. Once marinated, drain the chicken, vegetables and spices. Pass the wine through a fine strainer into a saucepan. Bring gently to the boil over a very low heat. As the wine boils foam will appear on the surface – remove it with a tablespoon and discard. After simmering gently for 4 minutes you will be left with a clear stock. Remove from the heat and pat the chicken dry on a clean tea towel.
  3. Heat an ovenproof, flameproof dish over a high heat, add some olive oil then the chicken pieces skinside down. Brown on all sides very well, then remove and set aside. Add the reserved vegetables and spices from the marinade. Fry these very well until all the vegetables are richly coloured, almost caramelised, then add the quince paste. Put the chicken drumsticks back into the pan and add the clear wine stock. Bring to the boil slowly over a low heat and reduce the liquid by half. Refrigerate the chicken breast and thigh pieces until required.
  4. Preheat oven to 200°C.
  5. Add the chicken stock, veal jus and bouquet garni to the dish containing the drumsticks. Cover with a circle of greaseproof paper which has a hole in the centre to allow for some evaporation of the sauce (which will intensify in flavour as it reduces). Transfer the dish to the oven and braise for 15 minutes until the legs are almost tender. Add the breast and thigh pieces to the braise and continue to cook for a further 15 minutes, until tender.
  6. Remove all the chicken and the whole shallots and cool to room temperature. Return the braising juices to the stovetop, add the sugar and reduce slowly over a low heat to a rich sauce.
  7. To poach the quince, peel, quarter and remove the woody core, then follow the method on p. 227. Drain and allow to cool. Cut each quince quarter into neat 2 cm slices. Sprinkle the slices with sugar, and heat with a blow torch until the sugar has caramelised.
  8. To make the parsnip polenta, combine equal quantities of parsnip purée with the prepared soft polenta.
  9. Prepare the croutons and pancetta rashers. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat, lightly season the field mushrooms and pan-sear in a little oil and butter.
  10. Cover the parsnips with water in a saucepan, add a pinch of salt, rosemary sprigs and garlic and gently bring to the boil. Drain and pat dry on a clean tea towel. Warm a roasting tray in the oven, wide enough so the parsnips can cook flat and evenly, and add the peanut oil and butter. Once the pan is hot, add the parboiled parsnips, rosemary and garlic and increase the temperature of the oven to 240°C. Roast for 5 minutes, then baste and turn the parsnips. Cook for a further 5 minutes until crisp. Remove from the oven and drain.
  11. Reheat the quince slices in the oven, if necessary.
  12. Check the consistency and seasoning of the sauce – if the sauce just coats the back of a spoon it is ready to be passed through a fine sieve.
  13. To serve, reheat the chicken and shallots in the sauce. Put a neat spoonful of parsnip polenta onto each serving plate, then arrange the chicken alongside, serving either a thigh or drumstick with a piece of breast, the smaller breast pieces with the bigger thighs. Arrange the shallots next to the chicken with the quince slices. Top each chicken piece with a mushroom and coat generously with sauce. Lastly top everything with rashers of pancetta, some crisp roasted parsnips and a couple of croutons.
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