When I started to read Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, which is a memoir of sorts about Bourdain’s rise to chefdom, I didn’t know much about him. Sure, I knew he was the head chef of a restaurant in New York, that he cooked mostly French cuisine, and that the book was to some degree an expose` on what really goes on behind the closed doors of the food industry. But I learned all that from reading the back cover (and also from looking at the menu of Les Halles on menupages.com). Never could I have imagined how taken in I would become by his descriptions of restaurant life. He made me want to be a chef, with callouses on my fingers (battle scars), sweaty, dirty and covered with a whole range of food particles after a long day on the line. Now most people would read that and go, “Ugh, not for me”, but he described it with such matter-of-fact pride and reverence that I wanted to be that person just to win his respect. Not to mention the fact that he started out as an average college kid with no intentions of entering the world of food (with no intentions of living past age 25, as it were). As I was reading, I kept thinking I could do this. But then I remembered that whole medical school thing and though, maybe after I retire.

One of the things I admired most about Bourdain while reading this book was his refusal to conform either his food or his mentality to any kind of social standards. He said what he wanted to say no matter how ugly, perverse, or inflammatory it was, just like he cooks what he wants to cook and then leaves it to the masses to decide whether or not they want to eat it (coincidentally, they usually do, unless they’re vegetarian in which case they’re shit outta luck). He’s gutsy and I gotta say, I like that in a man.

When decided what to cook as a dedication to him, I decided to go with some classical French cuisine, as this is the type of food that first drew him into the culinary industry. As I mentioned before, I looked at the menu of Les Halles and looked at recipes for some traditional dishes that I would be able to make with my limited supplies/space. In the end, I thought I would go with coq au vin, a French fricassee of rooster (in this case chicken) cooked with wine, bacon, mushrooms, and garlic. In typical “me” fashion, I modified it a bit and made it in the crockpot in order to save myself some time and energy. I also used turkey bacon instead of regular bacon. Bourdain would have hated that, but I think he would also respect my unwillingness to compromise my integrity, and so I don’t apologize for it. And you know what. It tasted damn good.

I will be submitting this to Cook the Books, which is being hosted by Jo from Food Junkie not Junk Food. In addition, since I served it over some egg noodles, I will also be sending it over to Presto Pasta Nights, which is being hosted by Katie at One Little Corner of the World.

Coq Au Vin
Serves 4, largely adapted from Simply Recipes

4 chicken leg quarters
1/4 lb turkey bacon
20 pearl onions (frozen)
6 cloves garlic
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup red zinfandel
2 bay leaves
1 sprig thyme
1/2 lb sliced mushrooms
2 tbsp butter
12 oz whole wheat egg noodles

1. Fry the bacon until crisp. In the same pan, brown the leg quarters. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

2. In a crockpot, add the pearl onions, mushrooms, and chopped garlic. Next, add the chicken, bacon, and any drippings left over from the skillet. Add in the rest of the ingredients except for the wine.

3. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours (I left it for about 7). Add the red wine and cook on high for one hour.

4. I ended up removing the chicken, stirring in some cornstarch dissolved in water and thickening the sauce on high for a bit.

5. Boil some water for noodles and serve with the chicken and mushroom sauce.

You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at https://joanne-eatswellwithothers.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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23 Responses to Kitchen Confidential

  1. Jeff says:

    KC was a good book and his other one Nasty Bits I enjoyed too. Although I did like Heat better than Nasty Bits but that is due to a man crush on Batali.

    Coq au vin is one of my top 5 favorite dishes of all time and nicely done!

  2. Natashya says:

    Chicken and noodles, my absolute faves..
    You would definitely win Tony over with this as – it is homemade, French in his honour, and you are young and cute!
    Great job!

  3. Debinhawaii says:

    Always good to stick to your intentions and not compromise! The chicken looks wonderful and I am sure he would love it. So glad you liked the book!

  4. Reeni? says:

    I think Tony would be proud! It looks delicious, and has such great flavors! A yummy comfort meal!

  5. Donna-FFW says:

    Joanne- This looks gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. I have never made this dish, but I have always wanted to . This sounds like a fantastic version.

  6. Pam says:

    What a great idea to do it in the crockpot. I love Anthony Bourdain.

  7. Ruth says:

    Great post. Now I’m intrigued enough to buy the book ;-). Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights. The dish looks delish!

  8. burpandslurp says:

    Bourdain is my hero. I love his writing, how witty and honest and real it is. I’ve read all his books, and I recommend you reading them as well, esp A Cook’s Tour. I loved it, and I’m sure you will too!
    and that coq au vin? looks stunning!

  9. Elra says:

    Delicious, I love this specialty. Though it’s hard to find coq here, but some times the Chinese grocery carry them. Yours look so delicious. If I can find the coq, I’ll try to make it. Well done Joanna!

  10. Joanne says:

    Jeff – Thanks for stopping by. Batali is awesome as well! I like to think Bourdain is the king of French food while Batali is the king of Italian…so you can’t really compare them.

    Natashya – I only hope that one day Bourdain will google himself and come across this…how cool would that be!

    Deb – Thanks so much for being one of the Cook the Books creators…awesome blog event!

    Reeni – It was SO comfort…and just got better with time.

    Pam – Anthony is one of those guys who I would LOVE to meet in person (and would totally have an older-guy crush on). I’m beginning to rely on the crockpot more and more lately, its an addiction.

    Ruth – It’s a great read. I guarantee you won’t be able to put it down.

    burpandslurp – I will definitely be trying to locate his others at the library. Thanks for the comment!

    Elra – I just used regular chicken and didn’t actually go for the rooster. It’s hard to find traditional coq here as well. Let me know if you make it and thanks for the comment!

  11. n.o.e says:

    Smart girl, using the crock pot for this dish! We enjoyed coq au vin recently; sooo good over noodles. Thanks for the book review; you make me want to be a chef too, or at least read the book!

  12. Katie's blog says:

    What a neat idea! I am going to try this. Thanks for sharing with PPN this week

  13. Joanne says:

    noe – I remember your coq au vin…it looked amazing. Thanks for the comment!

    Katie’s blog – Thank YOU for hosting. Let me know what you think if you try it.

  14. Elizabeth says:

    This looks absolutely gorgeous. I’ve always wanted to try making coq au vin, but the sheer amount of time it takes to make has always kept me away. I can’t believe I never thought to put it in the crock pot!

  15. Joanne says:

    Elizabeth – I was definitely daunted as well and toyed with whether ot not I should choose another dish, but the crock pot made it MUCH easier. Let me know if you give it a shot.

  16. Johanna says:

    A bit light on the alcohol for a “real” coq au vin, but a tasty dish none the less. Good luck

  17. Joanne says:

    Johanna – Because I made it in the crockpot, I couldn’t add as much liquid and had to scale it down. I guess that is the price you pay for cooking in a dorm room. It still tasted good!

  18. Rachel says:

    Great post for the Cook the Books book pick. Coq Au Vin is sooooo good and your version sounds very tasty indeed.

  19. Joanne says:

    Rachel – Thans a bunch, it was an awesome event!

  20. you’ve done a professional job with this dish – it looks perfect for serving at LEs Halles!

  21. Foodycat says:

    That’s a great dish! I think the changes you made, while keeping the flavours and the essence of the dish, couldn’t possibly offend! Anyway, Bourdain is as thin as a reed, he doesn’t understand that some of us don’t have that metabolism!

  22. Suzie says:

    I love coq au vin – such lovely layers of flavours. I bet yours was wonderful! Glad you liked the book, and I’m impressed it made you want to be a line cook. All I could think was “no way not ever!” Although I’d love to cook that well……

  23. Joanne says:

    Mediterranean Kiwi – Thanks a bunch! I’m actually thinking of checking out Les Halles when I get back to NYC. I can’t wait!

    Foodycat – Haha SO true. He reminds me of my brother – tall, gangly, and able to eat whatever he wants. Plus, I would use the fake-out method – I wouldn’t tell him about the changes until after he’d eaten it and liked it.

    Suzie – I would just want the experience, to be able to say I’ve done it. But I probably wouldn’t want to do it for a lifetime, it sounds too stressful.

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