Coq au Vin

Recipe by Matt Richman, executive chef, Market Street Café.

I like the colors and freshness of food. The simplicity of it. That’s really where it’s at, I think. In a perfect world, I would love to go to the farmers’ market and see what’s good and plan my menu around that. That’s what I do when I cook at home. I go to the Little Italy farmers’ market and see the produce, I go to bigger markets to see the meat, see the wine. You have to see it. You just can’t plan and expect everything to work all the time. That’s why I change the menu seasonally — stuff comes and stuff goes.

I grew up in San Diego and my parents were teachers. But they had really green thumbs and we always had fresh vegetables to eat. My mom cooked in the week and my dad cooked on the weekends. We always had fresh tomatoes, radishes, and corn. There was a compost heap in the back yard. But I was never interested in cooking until the first week of college when I ate in the cafeteria. Then I realized how spoiled I was growing up. That’s where the seeds were planted for cooking, I guess — at the University of New Mexico’s cafeteria.

My first cooking job was at culinary school. I went to CCA in San Francisco. The first week of school we went to the Fifth Floor of the Hotel Palomar. It was a good time and a great learning experience. Then I was playing catch-up. I wanted to continuously move and go somewhere else to compare and contrast and learn. I worked at Pacifica in Del Mar for five years. Then I went to Miami for a year, which is a 180 from San Diego. Now my food has a Mediterranean style with a Cuban influence. I like to take the classics and tweak them a bit.

At Market Street Café, we serve classical French cuisine: French onion soup is one of our signatures. But I worked with Ric on the menu and added a seafood stew that I love. And I found a local artisan who makes handmade sausages and we added those as well.

I’m not pretentious. I’m not that kind of chef. I’m open to advice. I’ve worked in San Francisco and San Diego and Miami in many different types of restaurants — from the best in San Francisco to a place by the ballpark. After I immerse myself in something, I try to get different opinions. That’s just how I am. I’m not here to reinvent the wheel. My job is to educate people about food. San Diego will always be a fish taco/carne asada kind of town. But we’re moving forward. We’re definitely raising the bar up.


Serves 4

  • 1 bottle of red wine
  • 1 onion, cut into a 1-inch dice
  • 1 carrot, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 celery, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 bouquet garni (2 sprigs each of parsley and thyme plus 1 bay leaf)
  • 1 whole chicken, about 3.5 lb
  • salt and ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 tbsp butter, softened (divided use)
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 lb bacon, cut into small pieces, about 1/4” by 1”
  • 1/2 lb small, white button mushrooms, stems removed
  • 12 pearl onions, peeled


The day before you begin to cook, combine the bottle of red wine, diced onion, sliced carrot, celery, cloves, peppercorns, and bouquet garni in a large bowl. Add the chicken and submerge it in the liquid so that all of it is covered. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap; refrigerate overnight.

The next day, remove the chicken from the marinade and pat it dry and put it aside. Strain the marinade through the fine strainer, reserving the liquids and solids separately. Season the chicken with salt and pepper inside and out. In the large Dutch oven, heat the oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter until almost smoking, and then sear the chicken, turning with the tongs to evenly brown the skin. Once browned, remove it from the pot and set it aside again. Add the reserved butter to the pot with the onions, celery, and carrot reserved from the marinade and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and golden brown. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and mix well with a spoon so that the vegetables are coated. Now stir in the reserved strained wine marinade. Put the chicken back in the pot, along with the bouquet garni from the marinade. Cook this for about 1 hour and 15 minutes over low heat.

Cook the bacon pieces in a separate small sauté pan over medium heat until golden brown. Remove the bacon from the pan and drain it on paper towels, making sure to keep about 1 tablespoon of fat in the pan. Sauté the mushroom tops in the bacon fat until golden brown. Set them aside. Then sauté the pearl onions until golden. Add the bacon, mushrooms, and pearl onions to the pot with the chicken and add salt and pepper to taste. You can skim off any oil or fat that forms on top of pot with a large cooking spoon. Serve with white rice, mashed potatoes or Pommes Anna and fresh vegetables.

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I always thought that Coq a Vin was made with capon (not that I have ever eaten capon)

  • Joe

Yes, you are correct, Joe, but roosters are hard to come by at the local grocery. :) Hence the chicken substitute for most recipes in this country, at least.

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