I go to this…incredibly pretentious… yet effective yoga studio in Prahran called Humming Puppy. The space – or the Shala – is bespoke architecture co-designed by one of the world’s leading acoustic engineers. It literally hums with a combination of frequencies that are associated with the Schumann Resonance (the apparent frequency of the earth itself) and Gamma brainwave activity. Supposedly, by being submersed in these frequencies, yogis at this shala are able to train the body to match them – to become more grounded and perform better during their practice.
None of this means anything to me. I couldn’t care less about the frequencies. I practice there because I enjoy studying the art of yoga from the knowledgable teachers. My favourite teacher Sian completed her yoga studies in Goa India, and has the most angelic voice when she chants ancient yogic mantras at the end of her classes. She is somewhat ethereal and her classes are always booked out at least a day in advance.
It was after one of Sian’s classes where I met my good friend Pascale. At the time of our meeting, she was new to our unusual shala and new to Melbourne. Pascale has a thick French accent despite being able to speak fluent English, and she’s bubbly and loves trying to use Australian slang in her sentences.
“Tonight I will make a sanga – is that right? Like a baguette or a sandwich?”
“It could not bother me…or is it I can’t be bothered?”
“What is the difference between ‘avo and ‘avo?” (she meant arvo and avo)
We always try to make the early evening classes after work so that there’s enough time left in the day to go to the shops, go home, cook dinner and do our own thing. Pascale and I often do our shopping together and swap dinner ideas because she is an avid cook and foodie (to be honest, I have never met a French person who doesn’t act like cooking and eating are forms of art).
She passed on the following recipe to me after we spent an evening at the supermarket looking for a Rooster a few months ago. Obviously I already warned Pascale that we wouldn’t find a Rooster at any normal Australian grocery store…heck I don’t think I’ve ever even seen capon being sold at regular butchers. But she wanted to see for herself.
“Usually we get them from the market,” Pascale explained, shrugging it off when she failed to locate her bird. She picked up some chicken drumsticks and thighs instead. “But I am surprised that they don’t even sell them at the butchers here.”
“What do you need Rooster for?” I asked.
Pascale then went for some pancetta, some bacon lardons, and struggled to find some proper pearl onions. To be fair, there are not that many markets or butchers open past 6 around Prahran so we were at a Coles.
“I want to make a dish we make back home in Alsace. Do you know Coq au Vin?”
Do I? Delicious, fall-off-the-bone, tender pieces of chicken with burgundy stained flesh. Savoury, rich, winey sauce with salty bacon pieces, earthy mushroom and sweet pearl onions. A gorgeous, rustic, country dish that has been popularised by many restaurants and is now considered quite fancy.
“I am making the Alsace version,” said Pascale with a wink. “We do it with white wine…Riesling most of the time. It is just as rich. I’ll show you.”
Coq au Riesling
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Serves: 4 – 6
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large onions, finely chopped (or 12-16 pearl onions if you can find them)
- 125g pancetta, chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, crushed
- 6-8 chicken pieces on the bone
- 300g brown mushrooms, sliced
- 500ml Riesling (or dry white wine of your choice)
- 250ml light cooking cream
- salt & pepper to taste
- handful chopped parsley
- Heat the oil in a large, heavy bottom pan or dutch oven.
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper to taste.
- Brown the chicken pieces all over in batches, being careful not to tear the skin.
- Remove the chicken pieces and set aside for later.
- In the same pan, ddd the onions and pancetta and allow to fry in the chicken fond (caramalised bits from frying off the fat in the skin) until the onions are soft and translucent and the fat from the pancetta glazes the entire mixture.
- Add the garlic, and allow to saute for another 30 seconds before removing the mixture from the pan.
- In the same pan, fry the mushrooms with the left over chicken and pancetta fond for about 5 minutes, until they release their moisture.
- Return the onion and pancetta mixture along with the browned chicken back to the pan.
- Pour in the wine and allow to come up to a boil. Turn down the heat and cover with a lid to simmer.
- After 15 minutes, uncover, turn up the heat and add the cream. Allow to cook for another 10 – 15 minutes.
- Add the chopped parsley and season to taste.
- I purchased my chicken (and most of my meats) from a local bio-dynamic butcher called Belmore Meats. They are family owned and operated, and all the animals that produce the meats sold here are free range. They are also antibiotic, GMO and growth hormone free. You can find out more about them and their practice here.