Recipe of the Week: You had me at Coq au Vin...

Today’s post is the third in a series of weekly Julia Child recipes. This week, education technologist Carrie Kotcho shares her experience with a Julia Child recipe that changed the course of her life.

“How fortunate we are to have chicken in pieces”

Whether you purchase a whole chicken or use pre-cut pieces for Shears2Coq au Vin, you should check out Julia’s detailed instructions on disjointing poultry (not for the faint of heart) in Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume II (pp.312-315). In another example of how she organized her kitchen work spaces, Julia kept her poultry shears, along with other cutting tools, on a pegboard hook near the butcher’s block in her kitchen. She didn’t waste time hunting for a tool in a drawer, but had it right at hand near the surface where it would be used.

Where to Find the Master Recipe

  • Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1, p. 263
  • The Way to Cook, p. 141, 142
  • The French Chef cookbook, ‘Coq au Vin,’ p. 76
  • The French Chef, episode “Coq au Vin”
  • You can also find a variation online from Smitten Kitchen.

Carrie’s Story

In the winter of 1990, I sat down to a meal that would change my life forever.

I had been dating this guy for a month or two when he invited me over to his apartment for dinner. “I’m going to make Coq Au Vin,” he said. I was quite impressed that not only was he confident enough to cook for me but that he planned to make such a special dish.

I grew up in the 70’s in Northern New Jersey, so we had maybe five channels on TV, and one of them was PBS. Julia Child’s program seemed to be on quite frequently, so we watched. She was funny and plainspoken, and she always made you feel that you could handle whatever new technique or recipe she was demonstrating. As a young child, she gave me the impression that cooking was about caring. Caring about ingredients, caring about those you cooked for, and that taking time to prepare good food for others was an act of love.

Growing up, I can barely remember a night when we didn’t have something new or different to eat. Of course we had our favorites that would get repeated by request, but my Mom was always trying something new. Needless to say, we felt pretty loved in my house!

So when that guy broke out his cast iron pan and made a special shopping trip to pick up all the ingredients for Coq Au Vin, for the first time I wondered, “Could this guy be the one?” Well, the meal was fabulous . . . crusty bread, a rich and savory Coq Au Vin, and a fantastic bottle of red wine. A memorable evening.

And the guy?  Well, tonight we’re having Coq Au Vin again. For our 16th wedding anniversary. 



We have a lovely little chef in training now (our daughter), and we all love to cook together. She’ll have that cast iron pan to cook up her own creations when she grows up. But more importantly, she knows the secret ingredient to every recipe: love.

Do try this at home!

We invite you to join with us in this celebration of Julia Child’s life, work, and contributions to American culinary history. Please share your experiences making Julia Child’s recipes by posting your story, photos, or video on our Tumblr page for this recipe series. Don’t forget to check back next week.

Carrie Kotcho is an education technologist at the National Museum of American History.

Posted in Food History