National Coq Au Vin Day falls on May 29 each year, and we couldn’t be more grateful for yet another day dedicated to French food. Not only does this holiday expand our cultural horizons, but our waistline, too! The name of the dish literally means ‘rooster-in-wine’ and it could not be simpler, since it originally was a dish made by French peasants. You may have heard the phrase “A chicken in every pot”, erroneously credited to President Hoover. The real propounder was King Henry IV of France, who wished that all his subjects would have a chicken in their pots every Sunday. Pronounced ‘cuhk oh van,’ it’s a dish made of chicken braised in a garlicky, mushroomy, bacon-lard sauce; with plenty of wine added.
History of National Coq Au Vin Day
Many say that the idea of braising a rooster in wine is ancient and could possibly date all the way back to 6000 B.C. Though the exact origin of coq au vin is shrouded in mystery, there is some fun anecdotal history on it, going all the way back to Julius Caesar’s conquest of Gaul (modern-day France and Belgium) in 58 B.C. French novelist Gilbert Cesbron once wrote, “The emblem of France, it was the rooster. Today it is the coq au vin.” Truer words could not have been said. Apparently, the rooster was a Gallic symbol of courage, so when Caesar conquered the Gauls, it’s said that one of the regional tribal chiefs sent him a rooster in defiance. To return the favor, Caesar invited him for dinner, where the Gallic chief was served the very same rooster, cooked in wine. Whether this is strictly true or not, matters little, as it makes for a great story at your next French-inspired dinner party.
In France in the 1600s, King Henry IV is said to have wished that each of his peasants would be able to enjoy “a chicken in his pot every Sunday.” His altruistic vision seemed to have been taken seriously, since coq au vin was a French peasant’s dish, which later became popular all over Europe. It was in 1864 that a cookbook called “Cookery for English Households” first printed a recipe called ‘poulet au vin blanc’ (chicken in white wine), which was very similar to today’s coq au vin.
However, it was chef Julia Child who really made coq au vin popular in the U.S. thanks to her seminal 1961 cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”. Along with other mouthwatering classic French recipes, Julia Child is credited with introducing French cuisine into American kitchens all over.
National Coq Au Vin Day timeline
Caesar’s conquest of Gaul also leads to a culinary victory in the form of coq au vin.
King Henry IV of France expresses the desire that all his people have Sunday chicken stew.
A British cookbook contains a recipe for chicken in wine, similar to modern-day coq au vin.
Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” brings coq au vin into the spotlight in American kitchens.
National Coq Au Vin Day FAQs
What is the best wine for coq au vin?
If you’re sticking to tradition, then using French wines from the regions of Burgundy or Alsace would be best. Burgundy wines are usually full-bodied red wines, like Pinot Noir. Alsace is the region of France best known for white wines like Rieslings.
What is traditionally served with coq au vin?
Coq au vin is best paired with some warm, crusty French bread. However, it can be served with any other starchy staple, like mashed or roasted potatoes, brown rice, couscous, egg noodles, or even pasta. It’s really up to your taste, or what you have available in your pantry.
What is so special about coq au vin?
Firstly, it takes very simple ingredients and combines them with an easy-peasy cooking method to bring about a dish that looks and tastes as fancy as the name suggests. Secondly, it is one of the oldest dishes that combines chicken and wine together and is a precursor to so many great modern versions. Lastly, it’s delicious!
How to Celebrate National Coq Au Vin Day
Try some DIY and document it
Ever seen the 2009 movie, “Julie & Julia”, starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams? Like the character of Julie Powell, try chef Julia Child’s famous version of coq au vin from her cookbook “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” and document it on social media. Who knows where that might take you, as it did Julie Powell, who is now a published author.
Treat yourself to a French dining experience
No one needs to be told twice when it comes to treating yourself (or a loved one). Whether it’s date night or some special occasion, make it extra special by taking a culinary trip to ancient France.
Take a French cooking class in French
Brush up on your French and take it outside of the confines of your classroom or language app, by going for a French cookery class. There’s no better (and yummier) way to immerse yourself in the language, culture, and atmosphere of France, without shelling out the big bucks to travel.
5 Basic French Sauces To Cover Your Bases
Literally French for ‘Dutch-style,’ it pays homage to butter and egg yolks whisked together.
A rich brown sauce that includes brown roux, mirepoix, and, often, tomato puree.
Classically known as ‘white sauce’, it consists of a roux made of flour and butter with milk added in.
From the French for ‘velvet’ comes this silky sauce, made of non-roasted bone stock combined with a classic roux.
A brown sauce made with either beef or chicken stock, with a very similar flavor to Espagnole.
Why We Love National Coq Au Vin Day
It’s a dish for all
Despite the literal meaning of the name, coq au vin can be modified and adapted to suit just about every dietary/lifestyle choice — including veganism. So don’t be shy to experiment with different variants. Packed with flavor and suited to all palates, coq au vin is truly a one-pot meal that can get even the staunchest person who “can’t cook”, to take to the kitchen.
It’s a food holiday
We love food holidays, especially because nothing breaks the ice or brings people together like good food does. So whether you make coq au vin from scratch and invite people over or take them out for a fine-dining experience, it’s guaranteed to be a bonding experience.
It’s a cultural experience
Food from different regions/cultures brings the world to our plate in some ways. So why not travel through food? This may also be the excuse you were looking for to do a French wine-tasting session too!
National Coq Au Vin Day dates