Coq au vin with orzo

August in London this year has been full of rain which has also been the perfect excuse for big, hearty dishes like this one. Heavy but also sweet with the carrots, this is a dish that will fill your kitchen with the scent of the intensely savoury wine sauce. Cooks take note: this recipe will leave you with a nice large glass of red so I suggest you do what Keith Floyd would have done and have a slurp while the dish is cooking.

Serves 4/5

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
60g salted butter
8 banana shallots (or 2 large onions), finely diced
4 large carrots, thickly diced
100g pancetta, cubed
3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1kg boneless chicken thighs, each thigh cut into 3 pieces
500ml red wine (Bordeaux works well)
250ml strong chicken stock
400g orzo pasta
Handful parsley, roughly torn

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and melt half the butter over a medium heat. Add the shallots, carrots and pancetta to the pan, season with salt and pepper, and saute for 10 minutes until the onions soften. Add the garlic to the pan and fry for a further 2 minutes.

Add the chicken thighs to your vegetable base and coat with the mixture. Once the meat is stirred into the mixture add the wine and chicken stock to the pan and bring to a boil.

Boil the sauce for 15 minutes which will cook off the alcohol in the wine. Once this is done give it a taste and adjust the seasoning if you need to. Turn down the heat and simmer for 20 – 30 minutes or until the mixture reaches sauce consistency.

15 minutes before you finish cooking the sauce, cook the orzo until al dente. Drain it well and, once your sauce is finished, add the pasta to the pan. Add the remaining butter and stir until the orzo and the sauce are combined. Serve scattered with parsley.


You can play pretty fast and loose with your choice of red but personally I like a Bordeaux for this. And always remember the Floyd adage: ‘if it’s not good enough to drink, it’s not good enough to cook with’.

I really think this dish works better if you don’t brown the meat. Yes you don’t get the joys of the Maillard reaction but your chicken will be much more tender and there’s plenty of flavour coming from the wine and the stock anyway so I wouldn’t worry.