Food & Drink

How to Make Coq au Vin

This classic stew is comfort in a dish

Photo: Johnny autry | Food Styling by Charlotte Autry

Starting a nonprofit that has provided more than two hundred thousand meals to food-insecure communities while fighting to keep one restaurant afloat and also pushing to open three more might sound a little crazy, let alone during a pandemic. But delivering comfort through food is just what Chris Williams does, even in the hardest of times. “Feeding people is the most basic form of love,” says the executive chef of Lucille’s in Houston, owner of Lucille’s Hospitality Group, and founder of the nonprofit Lucille’s 1913. The chef’s “community first” mantra is passed down from his great-grandmother (and restaurant group’s namesake) Lucille B. Smith. One of the first African American businesswomen in Texas, she was a successful caterer and in the 1940s developed the first commercially sold all-purpose hot roll mix (which she initially sold as a fundraiser for her church). She advocated for better conditions for the poor, and during the Vietnam War mailed more than three hundred fruitcakes to community members serving overseas.

When he’s cooking for others, Williams says, there’s one ingredient that will satisfy almost anyone. And that’s chicken. “It’s used in so many comfort dishes, and I’ve never heard of a person with a chicken allergy.” Few would balk if you showed up at their door with a beautiful roasted chicken, but Williams often likes to make coq au vin, a gratifying French-style stew of chicken and vegetables braised in red wine. “It’s a humble one-pot dish that’s honest and approachable,” he says. “And its rustic presentation tends to conjure up emotions that make you really reflect on community.”


  • (Yield: 4 to 6 servings)

    • 4 slices bacon, chopped

    • Whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces

    • Kosher salt

    • Fresh-cracked black pepper

    • 10 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

    • 1 large white onion, diced

    • 1 cup cremini mushrooms, quartered

    • 2 small carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces

    • 2 large russet potatoes, washed and cut into ½-inch pieces

    • 4 sprigs rosemary (stems removed), chopped

    • 2 bay leaves

    • 1 bunch curly parsley, chopped

    • 1 (750 ml) bottle inexpensive red wine

    • 2 cups chicken stock

    • ½ cup unsalted butter

    • ¼ cup all-purpose flour

    • 3 zucchinis, cut into ½-inch pieces

    • Chopped parsley, for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. In a 12-inch Dutch oven on the stove top, render the bacon over medium-low heat until crispy. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon, and place to the side. Season chicken with kosher salt and fresh-cracked pepper, then place in the hot Dutch oven. Brown chicken over medium-high heat, approximately 2 minutes per side.

  2. Add all ingredients except butter, flour, and zucchini to Dutch oven. Season mixture with 1 tablespoon salt. Stir, and bring to a boil. Cover with lid and place in oven for 30 minutes.

  3. While the chicken is cooking, melt butter in a sauté pan, then quickly whisk flour into the butter for a cheater’s béchamel. Return Dutch oven to the stove top at medium-high heat, then stir in butter and flour mixture along with zucchini. Cook for 2 more minutes, then turn off heat. To serve, ladle out a good mix of vegetables, top with chicken, and garnish with fresh-chopped parsley.

Recipe by: Chris Williams
Houston, Texas

Drop-off Tip: Deliver warm in a Dutch oven with a simple salad, hearty bread, and a light red wine.