Coq au vin is a French dish of chicken braised with wine, lardons, mushrooms, and optionally garlic. A truly authentic coq au vin is made, obviously, with a cock bird, and some of the blood goes into the sauce which, by the time it reaches the table, is a rich, almost black colour.
This quintessential French food was popularised by Julia Child through her television show and book and seen as one of her signature dishes. It is a dish of chicken braised (pot roasted) with wine, mushrooms, salt pork or bacon (lardons), mushrooms, onion, often garlic and sometimes brandy. Although the name translates as ‘rooster or cock in wine’ – and braising is ideal for tougher birds – the recipe usually uses chicken or capon. A red Burgundy wine is typically used, although French regional variations exist using local wines, for example coq au vin jaune (Jura), coq au Riesling (Alsace), coq au pourpre or coq au violet (Beaujolais nouveau) and coq au Champagne (Champagne).
Various legends trace coq au vin to ancient Gaul and Julius Caesar, but the recipe was not documented until the early 20th century; it is generally accepted that it existed as a rustic dish long before that. A somewhat similar recipe, poulet au vin blanc, appeared in an 1864 cookbook.
Julia Child featured coq au vin in her breakthrough 1961 cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and she frequently prepared it on the PBS cooking show The French Chef. This exposure helped to increase the visibility and popularity of the dish in the United States, and coq au vin was seen as one of Child’s signature dishes.