Make 3 days ahead. Coq Au Vin, now a staple at fine dining restaurants, was originally considered peasant food and featured Rooster. It was made popular in America almost single handedly by everyone's favorite home chef, Julia Child. The preparation is comparable to beef bourguignon. While the wine is typically Pinot Noir (Red Burgundy wine), many regions of France have variants of coq au vin using the local wine, such as vin jaune (Jura), Riesling (Alsace), Beaujolais... A word about the marinade: cook the alcohol first. Alcohol doesn't tenderize; cooking tenderizes. Alcohol in marinade in effect cooks the exterior of the meat, preventing the meat from fully absorbing the flavors in the marinade. This way you have the richness of the fruit of the wine, but you don't have the chemical reaction of "burning" the meat with alcohol or its harsh raw flavor." Thomas Keller.
*For the bouquet: 3 thyme sprigs, 2 bay leaves, 3 parsley stems, 1 star anise, and a few black peppercorns. Wash off veggies for the mirepoix; carrots, leek, and celery. Bring wine to boil, and ignite it to burn alcohol off – throw in mirepoix, peppercorns and herbs. Let cool before using. French chicken legs (Save knuckles for chicken stock). To separate the drum stick from the thigh, cut legs in half right from the joint. Repeat until done. In a large container, or pot, place chicken first and cover with marinade. Chill for 24 hours. Remove chicken and pat dry onto paper towels. Sieve marinade; save about half of the veggies and wine – chill.
Dredge chicken parts in flour; shake off excess flour. In a large sautoir, cook pancetta with shallots first for a few minutes on medium heat. Remove pancetta, and shallots; save fat. In the same sautoir, add some of the saved pork fat, or use frying oil. Sprinkle some salt (It creates a nonstick effect). Sear chicken skin side down first on high heat; flip and season with salt (Make 2 batches). Reserve seared chicken along with pancetta, and shallots. In the same sautoir, throw in veggies from the marinade, add mushrooms, and cook on high for about 5 min. Add tomato paste, stir up and cook for 5 minutes; set aside.
*For the chicken stock, look up at Chicken Stock Recipe. Veal / beef stock can be used instead, or a mix of both. Some demi glace can also be added to strengthen the taste of the braising. Save rendered juice from the seared chicken. Heat up a large dutch oven (Shop Page), and throw chicken in the pot, add brandy and flambée. Add veggies, wine, stock, and some fresh thyme – bring to a boil. Set oven to 300ºF/150ºC. Put lid on, cook coq au vin for 2 hours. Turn the oven off, add pearl onions and leave pot in the oven for 30 min more; covered. Carefully, transfer meat and veggies onto a large baking tray lined with plastic wrap, and topped with a wire rack. Save meat, pearl onions, pancetta, and mushrooms. Remaining veggies can be saved for later use. Sieve braising liquid; cool. Wrap up everything and refrigerate overnight.
Scrap fat out from the surface of the chilled braising liquid, and discard. Reduce to 2.4 cups/600g. Thicken up the sauce with a mixture of 10g water, or wine and 10g corn starch; swirl in hot sauce. Readjust seasoning with salt and pepper; keep sauce on low heat until ready to serve.
Joël Robuchon made the world's best mashed potatoes (Pomme purée). Robuchon favored a French variety of potato called La Ratte, a long potato with a smooth, buttery texture, and nutty flavor. The original recipe calls for a pound/450g of butter for every 2 pounds/900g of potatoes. Ratte potato can be subbed for Yukon gold. Since potatoes contain lots of microscopic starch granules, and as the starches soften in the heat of cooking, they sponge up surrounding moisture which make potatoes watery if peeled prior cooking. Cook potatoes, skin on in salted water until fork tender. Peel off potatoes, and pass through a food mill. Transfer into a saucepan. In a separate saucepan, heat up milk. Incorporate cubed butter in potatoes in 3 times using a spatula, on medium-low heat. Then, whisk in hot milk gradually; keep purée soft. Season with salt and pepper. To improve its smoothness even more, pass the finished potato purée through a sieve. Keep warm.
Heat up a large skillet, sear the saved pancetta, mushrooms, and peal onions with a drizzle of pork fat. Meanwhile, rewarm chicken in the oven (Tent with foil). Spoon out hot potato purée on hot plate, add a chicken thigh in the center along with some pancetta, mushrooms, and pearl onions. Add the chicken drum stick, and glaze with the sauce – Garnish with some greens such as blanched broccolini, steamed carrots etc... Season with black ground pepper. Bon appétit!