Julia Child’s Birthday & Coq au Vin

Chicken in Red Wine with Onions, Mushrooms, and Bacon
“In France it is usually accompanied only by parsley potatoes; buttered green peas could be included if you wish a green vegetable.” from Mastering the Art of French Cooking

In honor of Julia’s birthday, Father Adam and I are making the meal as she recommends. Our potatoes are parsleyed and our peas are buttered and tossed with chopped fresh mint.

Montecito, California

Adjacent to the city of Santa Barbara, lies beautiful Montecito. A while back my mother and I had lunch at the charming Montecito Inn.

After lunch, we decided to drive up the road to visit the Casa Dorinda and see where Julia Child spent her last years.

This assisted living facility is a sprawling complex, the former estate of a wealthy nature lover. Julia occupied a cozy one bedroom apartment. She decorated her little kitchen walls with cookware and tools just like she had at her home in Cambridge.

In addition to cooking and camaraderie, another of Julia’s passions was golf. I like to imagine that it gave her pleasure to have this pretty little green at the Casa Dorinda. Perhaps she played there?
Back to the kitchen and her Coq au Vin recipe…

Bacon is simmered in water, then dried and sautéed in hot butter until lightly brown. A whole chicken, cut-up, is then browned in the fat. Cognac is added to the pan.

Another reason to love Julia’s cooking – many of her recipes include lighting them on fire! Tip the pan and ignite the cognac.

After the flames subside, add 3 cups of good red wine and enough beef stock to cover the chicken. Stir in tomato paste, mashed garlic, thyme and bay leaf and bring to a simmer. This is another one of those times where I wish you could smell the aromas…Cover and cook 25-30 minutes.

Meanwhile make brown-braised pearl onions and sautéed mushrooms.

We thought Julia would be pleased that we sautéed french bread in clarified butter, in her honor, to make croutons for the coq au vin.

When the chicken is cooked, remove it to a platter then skim the fat from the sauce. Raise the heat and reduce the sauce. Beat beurre manié into the sauce to thicken, adjust seasoning. Add the chicken, bacon, onions and mushrooms back to the pot, heat through and serve.
The complete recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking can be found here. And oh my, the sauce was so flavorful, rich and velvety!
In honor of Julia’s birthday, August 15th, Lisa of Champaign Taste is hosting the third annual Julia Child Birthday Celebration. Lisa’s was the very first food blog I ever read. I was hosting a Julia-style dinner party in my home and was searching the web for some inspiration, and stumbled upon her first Julia event post. I was excited to read it not only for the ideas, but Lisa lives in Champaign Illinois, which is where I attended college. Please visit Champaign Taste for the round-up of Julia Child dishes from around the globe.
I leave you with the last paragraph from My Life in France:
“Such was the case with the Sole Meunière I ate at La Couronne on my first day in France, in November 1948. It was an epiphany. In all the years since that succulent meal, I have yet to lose the feelings of wonder and excitement that it inspired in me. I can still almost taste it. And thinking back on it now reminds me that the pleasures of the table, and of life, are infinite – toujours bon appetit!

Last year, I truly enjoyed recreating that very meal in my kitchen (here).

Happy Birthday and Thank You Julia Child!

11 thoughts on “Julia Child’s Birthday & Coq au Vin”

  1. What a wonderful post! Loved it.
    I can’t get over how delcious your chicken looks. Not one of my talents. 🙁

  2. The coq au vin looks wonderful. Deep, rich, hearty. It must be heaven to sop up the sauce with crusty bread.

  3. What a wonderful post and beautiful meal to celebrate Julia Child.

    Makes me want to go get the book and try some recipes!


  4. Hi Ann – I’m having a whole special week of honoring Julia.

    Hi Simona – thank you, and photographing chicken in a reddish brown sauce is actually quite a challenge.

    Hi Emiline – well, this chicken and sauce is so flavorful you can’t go wrong.

    HI ECV – that is exactly right. We just keep talking about the depth of flavor while we were eating it. Between bites I mean.

    Hi Val – please do, and invite me over!

  5. Oh, Lori Lynn—this is truly divine. How wonderful that you were in Montecito and that you saw Julia's place. And let's not even talk about your coq au vin. I really have no words for how gorgeous it looks. Love the step-by-step photos. And the croutons! The potatoes! The peas! Oh, my! You've really celebrated Julia in a grand manner. Thank you so much for taking part again this year. I love the final quote; toujours bon appetit to you, too!

  6. Great post and dish. It amazes me the full long life she lead almost to the very end. She wasnt as obsessed as we all tend to get but did it all in moderation and without deprivation..

  7. These are my favorite types of meals! The flavors sound so delicious, I’ll definitely bookmark this one!
    Montecito, one of my favorite Northern California destinations. Two of my sisters live in Santa Barbara. While Julia was living, my older sister had the good fortune to meet her and said she was so spry and delightful!
    How fun for you and your mother to have gone to where she lived! 🙂

  8. Hi Bren – thank you. It looks good and tasted heavenly!

    Lisa, Lisa, Lisa – I want to thank you, Champaign Taste was my very first blog read, and this is without a doubt, my favorite event.

    Hi Glamah – she certainly was and continues to be an inspiration!

    Hi Laurie – oh how neat for your sister to meet Julia! My mother lives in Santa Barbara also. We had a nice adventure visiting the Casa Dorinda together.

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