It is that time of year - snow is in the forecast, Christmas is around the corner and we're all in the mood for cozy dinners.  This stew is a warm-you-to-the-bones, stick-to-your-ribs winter dinner that will satisfy your every craving.  For more Cozy Dinner Ideas, click here.

Coq Au Vin has been on my 'list' for about 3 years now.  I'm not sure why I've been putting it off - maybe I was intimidated by the sophisticated name, or maybe I though it would be too complicated?  Or maybe I just thought that it was too much like Beef Bourguignon, so I'd just make that instead.  I decided to give it a whirl this week - and am I so glad I did.

I made a lighter, healthier version of the classic.  Instead of using a whole chicken cut into pieces with the skin on, I used chicken breasts.  Instead of using bacon, I used pancetta that has a smokier flavor and less fat.  Mike thought that it would have been great served with mashed potatoes, too... of course, typical meat and potatoes guy!

Coq Au Vin
hearty & healthy chicken stew

1/3 pound of pancetta, diced
2 pounds chicken breasts
Sea Salt & Black Pepper
5 carrots, large dice
1/2 yellow onion
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups of mushrooms, sliced
2 cups of red wine
2 - 14 oz. cans of chicken broth
1 tablespoon of fresh thyme 
2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of flour

1 baquette
olive oil
clove of garlic

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

In a large dutch oven (or heavy pan with lid), cook diced pancetta on medium until the fat has rendered off.  Remove pancetta with a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving the fat in the pan.  Cut the chicken into 2-3 inch pieces, salt and pepper liberally.  On high heat, sear the chicken in the pancetta fat for 2-3 minutes on each side until brown.  Remove chicken and set aside.

Add carrots and onions to the pan and cook for 3-5 minutes until they begin to soften.  You may need to add some olive oil to the pan at this point.  Add mushrooms.  Cook for a couple of minutes to brown.  Add garlic.  Cook for just 1 minute.  Add wine, broth and thyme.  Add chicken and pancetta back into the pan.  Simmer for 5 minutes, then put in the 250 degree oven for 30-40 minutes until chicken is cooked thru.  Return pan to the stove top.

In a small bowl, microwave the butter for 15 seconds.  Add flour and mix together.  Add flour butter mixture to the pan with the chicken, vegetables and wine broth .  Heat on medium high until the wine and broth mix begins to bubble and thicken.

Slice baquette into thick slices.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Place them under a hot broiler for 1-2 minutes until browned.  Remove from oven and rub the garlic clove over the top of each piece.

Serve the stew with a piece of the garlic bread in a shallow soup bowl. 

Brown the pancetta.

Sear the chicken on each side until it has a brown crust. 

Cook the vegetables in the same fat.

Add mushrooms. 

Be sure to use fresh thyme - it really does make a difference!

This is a great soup for a cold winter night in front of the fireplace... perfect.  For more Cozy Dinner Ideas, click here.