French in a Flash: Grilled Coq au Vin

Some people get their kicks running marathons, or knitting, or surfing YouTube for hours a day. I get mine reinventing classic French recipes. This one is the fruit of last weekend's experimentation with turning classic, wintry coq au vin into a summertime barbecue hero.

The flavors of classic coq au vin start with red wine. Soaking the chicken in the wine all night is the French equivalent to a Southern buttermilk bath: It tenderizes the meat, while staining it a gorgeous garnet. Then, the chicken is seared in bacon fat, with mushrooms and pearl onions, and stewed in wine. It's stewy, with everything falling off the bone, and lots of red wine sauce for mixing into your mashed potatoes. It's delicious, and completely inappropriate for warm weather.

For this version, I still soak the chicken in wine, but then I create a barbecue sauce from pancetta, dried wild mushrooms, shallots, thyme, and red wine. I slather the thick, earthy, completely inimitable barbecue sauce all over the chicken, and grill it until its crisp, charred, and luscious.

I think I've found the star of this Bastille Day's French barbecue cookout!