There are but a few bottles that remain untouched from my wine cellars of yesteryear. I am miserly with them but there is a limit to the wisdom of such miserliness when the object of one’s affection has a finite life span. Had the remaining wine in question been an outstanding grand cru, still in its pomp and with many more years of life left in it, then it would still be reclining on its rack where I could admire and fondle it to my miserly heart’s delight..but it wasn’t. What it was was a very good wine, a 1999 Saint Aubin “Les Castets” Hubert Lamy which had been more than a little compromised by being moved from pillar to post, and indeed from country to country, since it’s purchase in London in 2000, but it wasn’t , by any stretch of the imagination, an “intouchable”. Last weekend I was contemplating what I should cook for a family lunch to celebrate the beginning of another year of my life. In my case, such contemplation revolves around the bookshelves. Glass of wine in hand, I glance along the spines of old favourites occasionally plucking one out and flicking through the pages to see if some memory is resurrected, some new enthusiasm kindled. The monumental “Ripailles” by Stéphane Reynaud, with its upholstered cover and silk ribbon page marker, is a book that gives me pleasure just to hold in my hands and through whose pages I never tire of rummaging. On this occasion my eye was caught by the words “coq au Chambertin”. Not coq au vin but, gloriously, coq au Chambertin. There is a group of stellar wines, all astronomically priced, that include the word Chambertin in their nomenclature, such as Gevrey-Chambertin, of which the simple Chambertin is not a member: although the right one can be a very good wine indeed. My Saint Aubin was certainly its equal and so the die was cast. Coq au Saint Aubin would be dinner. There are many and varied recipes for coq au vin, and I have tried a fair proportion of them with varied degrees of success. For some reason I had never tried Stéphane Reynaud’s and I can assure you that it is the one that I will contrive to use henceforth. Simplicity in the wording and layout of a recipe seduces me unfailingly. I am aware that there is often the necessity for wordy recipes that involve a series of complicated and appetite reducing operations and like Odysseus, the well known mutton chef*, I remain deaf to their Siren song. Let others graft while I groove.
(*could “mutton chef” be the origin of the rhyming slang ” Mutt and Jeff” for “deaf”)
This is the recipe from the wonderful “Ripailles” by Stephane Reynaud. If you haven’t got the book, get it.