One of the very best cook book series I ever had—and still have—is the Time Life Good Cook Series. There were many of the books and they were released one month at a time.  They ranged from Soups  to Salads, from Vegetables to Shellfish—all presented in a very easy way to follow with great pictures—perfect for a person just finding their feet into the wonderful world of cooking. A much used favourite was Poultry, with all the best techniques explained and how to get to grips with the subject. One of my favourites—and one I often use–is the one called Chicken in Red Wine, Poulet en Meurette—a simple way of making the dish without all that rigmarole of doing it all separately. It is by Austin de Croze, “a distinguished gastronome of the 1920s and 1930s” a man after my own heart. You will not believe how simple this is—  and if anyone says it’s not real Coq au Vin—remind them that to be real they must use a rooster—or it’s not Coq!!—OK? This dish can also be made with white wine –try a Chenin—in which case it is called Poulet Pauchouse—I have NO idea why!

Couldn’t you just eat that now?


10 pieces free range chicken, skin on, bone in

300gm fatty bacon cut into chunks

Onions—I find the smallest ones I can—say 10–and peel, or just take larger and chop into quarters

1 bouquet garni if you can get it or 1tbsp each thyme and origanum dried

3 large garlic cloves chopped

250 gms button mushrooms

100 gms carrots (optional)

Salt and pepper

1 Bottle red wine—try Shiraz or Merlot—the same as you are going to drink.

100 gms butter

50gms flour


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees
  2. Cover the bottom of a casserole dish with the bacon, onions, bouquet garni, and garlic.
  3. Add the mushrooms and carrots if using.
  4. Place chicken pieces on top skin side up—season with salt and pepper—easy on salt—bacon remember?
  5. Pour wine over the ingredients. Told you it was easy.
  6. Cover and cook for 40 minutes
  7. Work butter and flour into a paste –beurre manié.
  8. After 40 minutes mix the beurre manié into the braising sauces and place uncovered casserole back into oven for 15 more minutes
  9. Correct seasoning if necessary and serve—fabulous.