#ThatTranslatorCanCook Week Sixteen: Coq au vin

This week, as my husband was visiting France anyway, I decided to opt for a very traditional French recipe: coq au vin! Read on to find out about a few minor translation challenges and the obstacles I face cooking a cockerel!

Once again, I found this recipe fairly easy to translate, although there were a few phrases that caused me minor issues:

A lot of the French recipes that I’ve chosen have come from Marmiton, which appears to be a website where users can upload recipes of their own concoction. Each recipe starts by telling you how long it will take and how many portions it makes. I don’t know why, but I’d never thought before that actually listing ‘eight people’ at the top of a recipe in English sounds a little odd and this time, I therefore opted for ‘Serves 8’.

Épongez-les bien
After marinating the meat, you have to drain it from the liquid and get rid of any excess on the meat. A literal translation of this phrase would be ‘sponge them well’, but the idea of sponging a piece of meat sounds a bit odd in English, so I opted for ‘dab off the excess liquid’!


Coq au vin ingredients marinating in a bowl.

This recipe was time-consuming, but involved very little skill. My first challenge was how to source a cockerel rather than a chicken. Thankfully, my husband was in France this week and able to pick up a cockerel at the supermarket. Unfortunately, I forgot to ask him if they could chop it up for us. It was so huge that in the end, after my husband wrestled with our rather blunt knives, I only used the legs and froze the breasts, saving the carcass to make stock.

A bottle of Armagnac

My next challenge was how to flambé the cognac as required. I’ve never actually flambéd anything as was unsure if it would go out by itself. Handily, there are plenty of websites out there (such as this one) that provide instructions on how to safely flambé and I had recently bought some long lighters for candles, so managed it succesfully.

Coq au vin with sautéed potatoes

I served the dish in the end with sautéed potatoes, as suggested in the recipe. I did, however, forget to add the mushrooms and lardons, which the recipe stated needed adding 15 minutes before the end – does anyone else hate instructions like that because they are liable to forget them?

Overall, I enjoyed this meal. I’d never tried cockerel before and found it to be a game-ier version of chicken. However, my husband wasn’t overly fond of the flavour – a rarity for him!

Next week I will be tackling a French classic with a twist. If you want to read about another French poultry classic, you can find my blogpost on turkey blanquette here.

Published by verityroat

Verity Roat BA CANTAB MA TRANSLATION CIOL Career Associate is a UK-based Arabic and French > English translator, Copy-writer, Copy-editor, Transcriber, Role-player & Tutor.

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