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Cooking at the Cove: Happy Christmas from The Cove

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Coq au Vin is a perfect meal for a cozy holiday weekend. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

A few years ago I made Coq au Vin, a delicious celebratory dish for Christmas Eve. I decided to prepare it again even though I remembered it was labor intensive. On this go-round, I took it step by step, completing all the dicing and slicing ahead of time. I incorporated a hefty package of chicken thighs, homemade stock I had at the ready in the freezer and a bottle of Shiraz that had been hidden away in the pantry.

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundy’s Harbor. You can reach her at [email protected]

I was rewarded with a rich savory stew that I served over garlic mashed potatoes with roasted broccoli alongside. It was a hearty meal that is certainly special enough for your holiday dining and can be made ahead to reheat later after the flavors have mingled together in the fridge.

This gingerbread cake is a luscious confection that can be served still slightly warm with orange-enhanced icing or with a cloud of whipped cream. It’s a lovely way to bring old-fashioned baking into your winter holiday traditions.

Coq au Vin

4 tablespoons olive oil
6 ounces bacon, diced
3-4 pounds meaty, bone-in chicken pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound carrots, cut diagonally in 1-inch pieces
2 yellow onions, sliced
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 bottle (375 ml) good, dry red wine such as Burgundy or Shiraz
2 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons thyme
4 tablespoons butter, divided, at room temperature
3 tablespoons flour
1 pound frozen small whole onions
1 pound cremini mushrooms, stems removed and thickly sliced

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and liberally season on both sides with salt and pepper.

Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add bacon and cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove bacon to a plate with a slotted spoon. Discard all but about 2 tablespoons of drippings.

Brown chicken on both sides in batches in a single layer for about 5 minutes. Remove chicken to the plate with bacon and set aside.

Add carrots, sliced onions, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper to the pan, and cook over medium heat for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Put the bacon, chicken and any juices that collect on the plate into the pot. Add wine, chicken stock and thyme and bring to a simmer.

Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until the chicken is tender. Remove pot from the oven and place on top of the stove.

Mash 2 tablespoons butter and the flour together thoroughly, then stir into the pot. Add frozen onions.

In a medium sauté pan, add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and cook the mushrooms over medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes, until browned. Add to the pot. Bring to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes. Season to taste. Yield: 6-8 servings

Gingerbread Cake

1/4 cup dark rum or water
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup butter
1 cup molasses
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest
2 1/3 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup dried crystallized ginger, minced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 8-by-8-inch cake pan.

Place rum or water and raisins in a small pan. Cover and heat until liquid comes to a boil. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Place butter and molasses in another small pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Pour mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Cool for 5 minutes, then mix in sour cream and orange zest.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, spices and salt in a small bowl. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add dry mixture to the molasses mixture and mix only until smooth. Drain the raisins and add them and the crystallized ginger to the mixture with a spatula. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Set aside to cool.

This can be turned out onto a cake plate and topped with this icing or left in the pan to serve a square at a time.

Icing

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed orange juice

Whisk sugar and orange juice together and pour it onto the cooled gingerbread. Allow the glaze to set. Yield: 9 servings

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