Chef Fred Neuville owner of the Fat Hen restaurant on St. John’s Island in Charleston shared his recipe for the French classic Coq au Vin. He’s been making this same coq au vin since 1985 so you know it’s got to be good.



  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups kosher salt
  • 4 cups red wine
  • 1 gallon hot water
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled and coarsely chopped carrot
  • 1 1/2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 12 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallots
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 tablespoon allspice
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 3/4 gallon ice


  • 5 whole chickens
  • 3 fluid ounces olive oil
  • 2 mediun yellow onions, chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup tomato paste
  • 1 48-ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 gallon red wine
  • 2 gallons chicken stock
  • salt and pepper to taste

Herb Sachet

  • 20 black pepper corns
  • 1/2 bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 4 bay leaves


  1. Mix the sugar, salt and red wine together in a nonreactive stockpot. Add the hot water and whisk to dissolve the sugar and salt. Add the vegetables and spices then drop in the ice. Let the ice melt before adding the chicken.
  2. Separate the chicken breast from the leg and thigh. You should have four pieces from each chicken. Completely submerge the chicken in the brine. Cover and place the stockpot in the refrigerator and leave it there for two days.
  3. After the chicken has brined, pat the pieces dry and liberally season with salt and pepper. It's important that the chicken is dry so you can get a good sear.
  4. Drizzle the olive oil into a rondeau wide, shallow pot and heat to the smoking point. Add the chicken quarters, skin side down. Sear until golden brown, about eight minutes on each side. The better the sear or color the better the flavor. Transfer the chicken to a deep, ovenproof pan and set aside. Leave the rondeau on the heat and add the chopped vegetables mirepoix and whole garlic. Cook for one minute. Add the tomato paste and cook for one minute stirring constantly.
  5. Pour in the red wine and reduce by half then add the canned tomatoes.
  6. Cook for one minute. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
  7. While the sauce is coming to a boil, make your herb sachet. Put all the ingredients on a piece of cheesecloth, cinch the ends together and tie with a string. Super simple.
  8. Pour the hot sauce over the chicken. The chicken should be completely covered. Add the sachet of herbs.
  9. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. The plastic wrap keeps all the moisture in so the chicken will be extra good. Place in a pre-heated 250 degree F oven and cook for an hour and a half. Check that the skin and meat are pulling away from the leg bone, that's a sign that it's done. Uncover the pan and let the chicken cool in the liquid, preferably overnight.
  10. After the chicken pieces cool take them out of the pan reserve the cooking sauce and remove the rib bones from the breasts. Set the meat aside.
  11. Strain the sauce into a saucepan and reduce it down by a quarter over a medium high heat.
  12. Place the chicken in a cold ovenproof skillet, skin side down. Spoon about 2 ounces of the sauce over the chicken and bake in a pre-heated 350 degree F oven for 12 to 15 minutes.
  13. To the remaining sauce add two tablespoons butter and heat until the butter is melted.
  14. Serve the chicken with a medley of vegetables Sautéed with cubed salt pork or slab bacon. Chef Neuville recommends sweet potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, parsnips and shallots. Top each serving with a bit of the sauce and you are ready to eat!