• Coq au vin with barley and spinach dumplings

    By Neil Roake Serves: 4
    Cooking Time: 2 hours 15 mins


    • 90ml olive oil
    • 250g smoked bacon, diced
    • 2 onions, peeled and finely diced
    • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
    • 1,5kg free-range whole chicken, legs trussed with string
    • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    • 750ml (3 cups) red wine
    • 250ml (1 cup) chicken stock
    • 10 fresh thyme stalks + extra, to garnish
    • 500g pearl onions, peeled
    • 500g button mushrooms
    • 8 – 12 baby carrots
    • Barley and spinach dumplings
    • 200g pearl barley, rinsed well
    • 750ml (3 cups) water
    • 200g baby-leaf spinach, rinsed
    • 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
    • 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
    • 45ml (3 tbsp) fresh parsley, chopped
    • 2 eggs
    • 40g Parmesan, grated
    • 2,5ml (½ tsp) salt
    • 1,25ml (¼ tsp) ground black pepper
    • 75g cake flour
    • 1L (4 cups) vegetable broth, to poach
    • 20 strips pancetta, fried until crisp (optional)



    Heat 30ml (2 tbsp) of the olive oil in a large, heavy-base pan over medium-heat. Add the bacon and cook until lightly browned, 5 – 8 minutes. Add the onions and garlic and continue to cook until the onions are transparent, 10 minutes. Remove the onion mixture and set aside. Clean out the pan and add another 30ml (2 tbsp) of the olive oil. Liberally sprinkle the chicken with salt and black pepper on both sides. Add the chicken to the pan, breast side down, and cook over medium heat until the skin turns golden, 5 minutes. Turn the chicken over and brown the other side. Place the onion mixture back in the pot and add the red wine, stock and thyme. Put the lid on and simmer over medium heat, 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180°C.


    Place the pearl onions, cut edge down, in a griddle pan over medium heat and brown the edges. Remove and set aside. Add the mushrooms and final 30ml (2 tbsp) of the olive oil to the griddle pan and cook until the mushrooms just start to brown and soften, about 10 minutes. Place the onions, mushrooms and carrots in the pot with the chicken, ensuring they remain on top. Put the lid on and place in the oven, 30 minutes. 


    For the dumplings, rinse the barley and place in a pot over medium heat with the water and cook until tender, 45 minutes. Drain in a colander, squeezing out any excess moisture. Set aside to cool.


    Rinse the spinach in water, drain and add to a saucepan. Over low heat, sauté until just wilted. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Squeeze out any excess moisture.


    Add the barley, spinach, onion, garlic, parsley, eggs, cheese, salt, pepper and flour to a food processor and pulse until smooth. Place in a bowl and refrigerate, 15 minutes. Dust your hands with flour and roll the mixture into even ping pong ball-sized dumplings.


    Heat the stock over medium heat and gently poach the dumplings, 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon. 


    Five minutes before serving, add the cooked barley dumplings to the coq au vin so they just heat through. Serve with the crispy pancetta, if desired, and garnish with a sprig of fresh thyme.

    Cook’s tip: If you prefer a thicker broth, simply mash 15g butter with 15ml (1 tbsp) cake flour. Drop small amounts at a time into the broth and whisk.